Two virtual soccer freight trains collided Thursday night in Palatine, and it was Barrington, in this clash of Mid-Suburban West boys soccer momentum, which came away with an important 3 points.
David Conrad and Andrew Simek struck three minutes apart midway through the first period, while keeper Pat Deroche helped get his club through a nervous moment or two in the second half to help the Broncos (13-2-3, 6-1-1-19 points) earn a 2-1 victory over Fremd.
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The Broncos now stand atop the MSL table and 1 point clear of the Vikings (6-6-4, 5-2-2-17 points), whose six-game unbeaten streak ended.
"We knew getting 3 points would be big for us, and we also knew Fremd thought the same as well," said Conrad. "With the great effort from (Deroche) and our defense in the second half, coupled with us putting the first one in tonight, it all led to an important win."
"Fremd just really comes at you from the opening whistle," said Barrington coach Scott Steib. "We expected it, and got it, and I thought we weathered the storm pretty well in the first 10-15 minutes until (Conrad) got us in front. After that, the game just settled into what we knew would be a fast-paced, tough 80 minutes of soccer."
Conrad immediately made his mark on the match, when just after Steib brought the senior on, he found the back of the net.
"It was my first touch of the game," smiled Conrad, who finished what Jamie Tausend began with a long throw and Connor Hennelly extended with a nifty little ball back into the mix.
"David's goal was so big for us," said Deroche.
Simek's goal doubled the Broncos' advantage. Again, a Tausend long toss started all sorts of trouble in the Vikings' box. The ball eventually skimmed the underside of the bar before spilling over the end line.
"I didn't get a good look at that second goal, but we didn't defend that entire sequence very well, and it forced us to chase two goals the rest of the way," said Fremd coach Steve Keller.
The Vikings gave the Broncos all they could handle after the break.
Deroche turned a dangerous corner from Zach Schoffstall around the back post in the 46th minute, then saved a Tomas Peleckas header off another Schoffstall header at 58 minutes.
Confusion reigned when Deroche put the ball down on the turf, then picked it up -- causing a freekick from 10 yards, with all 10 Broncos lined up along the end line.
Schoffstalls' blast was stopped by Deroche, but Matthew McCarty steered the rebound toward the back post, where an alert Jason Frenk cleared a sure goal off the line.
The Broncos escaped this disaster, but could not avoid another dangerous moment when a hand ball in the box was detected by the center official. Nathan Dolan stepped up and buried his 63rd-minute spot-kick.
"I never doubted for a moment that we were down and out when it became 2-0," said Dolan. "This team has a lot of heart, and we, like Barrington, we knew what was at stake tonight."
The match became a game of direct soccer, with each side hoping to pry open the other with long balls out of the back. But both back lines were nearly air-tight down the stretch.
The Broncos conceded a handful of long throws, with the best coming at 66 minutes when Schoffstall targeted Dolan, who forced Deroche into a save with a ferocious header.
"We needed to play with the same intensity we showed in the second half in the opening period, but I was still happy with our overall effort, so now we get ready for Buffalo Grove next week," said Keller, whose club welcomes New Trier on Saturday afternoon.
"The road only gets tougher for us after tonight," said Steib, "and although we have a game in hand, we've still got Schaumburg, Hersey and Hoffman Estates in the next week."