Boys soccer: Scouting the Class 3A Hersey supersectional
Barrington (19-3-4) vs. Wheeling (21-1-2).
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Storyline: This final ensures the Mid-Suburban League's participation in this weekend's Class 3A state tournament at Hoffman Estates. Fremd is the conference's most recent Final Four representative, having finished third in 2011. Barrington was a close call to making it last year, falling 2-1 to eventual state champ Warren in a sectional final.
"We've had some very talented teams not make it this far, so when you do, you just appreciate it that much more and be thankful for still being alive in the tournament and be very proud of what your team has accomplished thus far," said Barrington coach Scott Steib.
The MSL champion Wildcats edged the Broncos 2-1 in PK's at the 37th MSL Cup in mid-October, and Wheeling will be making its second supersectional appearance in program history after withstanding a 20-minute firestorm to defeat a quality side from Evanston in its sectional final Saturday. Wheeling also played in a supersectional in 1994.
"When I was putting my starters into the scorebook before our game with Evanston, it struck me that I was writing the date (Nov. 1) for the first time. I had never coached this late into a soccer year," said Wheeling coach Ed Uhrik.
Outlook: Fittingly, in a season where the defenses dominated for both clubs, the back four of each team rose to the occasion when it needed it most. The Wildcats' turnaround is pegged to the sensational work from Nathan Laude, Alfedo Rocha, Fabian Acosta and Michael Hernandez along with a concerted effort to defend collectively. After conceding 50 goals last season, Wheeling has allowed a paltry 15 this fall. Not to be overlooked is the fine work turned in from senior keeper Gary Mendoza (9.0 shutouts). "We made defending the top priority beginning in summer league, and we've continued to do so ever since," says Uhrik.
Barrington has relied on its unsung defense all season. Especially recently, this confident bunch has helped raise the level of play in the attack by generating enterprising runs out of the back and quality service.
"We knew with Pat Deroche (14 shutouts) that things would be good at the keeper position, and to be honest, I really felt the group we had in place in the back would be our strength," said Steib. "But Tyler Anderson, Jamie Tausend, Jason Frenk and Shawn Owen have been even better than we thought, and as the technical side of our game has improved during the last three weeks, so has our game overall."
Advancement: The winner at Hersey advances into the Class 3A state semifinals at Hoffman Estates High School at 5 p.m. Friday, to face the winner of Tuesday's Bartlett supersectional, either Lake Park (20-2-3) or Larkin (12-10-4).
-- Mike Garofola