Buffalo Grove underlined its status as the top girls soccer team in the Mid-Suburban League this season -- to date, anyway -- after defeating host Barrington 3-2 Monday evening in the snow and cold.
The Bison (10-0-0, 4-0-0) join the Fillies (5-1-2, 4-1-0) atop the MSL standings with 12 points after sending the Fillies to their first loss of the season.
"The last time we played Barrington they beat us in the third-place match at the state tournament, and a lot of us had not forgotten that so it was good to get them this time around," said Bison striker Allie Ingham, who scored the only conventional goal of the night for her club after the Fillies conceded two unfortunate first-half own goals.
"It was a terrible night for soccer, but I thought we connected so much better as a team than we did last Friday against Prospect," said Buffalo Grove coach Pat Dudle. "But I thought it was our defense which really helped us get this win tonight."
It was hardly the type of weather either of these elite teams would have preferred.
"I don't know what you can really take out of a game like this because of the terrible conditions -- which, strangely enough, were just like last year when we played in the regular season," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren. "But the fact that we were outworked tonight, especially in the midfield, did have a lot on the eventual outcome."
There was little room for finesse from either side, as a driving, wet snow soon blanketed the turf. The playing surface soon became almost completely covered by snow as the first period progressed.
The Fillies opened with three forwards, but the trio of Jenna Szczesny, Carrie Madden and Elli Ackermann were unable to solve the Bison back four and keeper Sarah O'Connor.
"I thought Maria (Hamilton) did an excellent job on (Szczesny), who is just an awesome player at her position, and one that we've seen first hand, who can be so dangerous when she is given space and time," said Dudle.
Ackermann came up the left side and fired a wicked left-footer that forced O'Connor to save at 16 minutes, and in doing so, allowed a rebound to roll freely to the top of the box. But an onrushing Kelsey Muniz was unable to get her shooting boot on the errant ball.
Two minutes later, the Fillies looked on in disbelief as one of their players redirected a ball past keeper Hannah Luedtke. Some three minutes later, Barrington got a repeat jolt when Kelli Zickert's bending corner from the near flag found its way into the back of the Barrington net with some help from a Fillies player.
"It's something you don't see too often," said Stengren of the own goals, "but to concede two, and in one half of soccer, was pretty bad for us -- and good for them,"
There were plenty of glum faces on the Barrington side when the first period finished, but things came alive for the Fillies almost immediately in the second half as Megan Fox drove her 25-yard blast past O'Connor in the 45th minute to suddenly make it a game again.
Four minutes later, though, Ackermann was helped off after suffering a nasty gash in her knee, which would require several stitches after the match. Only a brilliant, athletic save from Luedtke on Ingham kept momentum from turning right back around against the Fillies/
"It was tough losing Elli, and if not for a great save from Hannah, our chances to stay in the game might have been over," said Stengren.
Madden, who showed terrific pace and tempo after intermission, nearly equalized in the 57th minute but against O'Connor saved. Five minutes later, a courageous O'Connor came off her line to turn around another close-range shot from Madden.
On the other end, Luedtke stopped Kelli Zickert at the post after teammate Sabrina Guercio slid the ball to the Bison's leading scorer. But the Fillies' all-state keeper could do nothing when Ingham strolled in all alone thanks to Zickert, who set up the senior in the 70th minute.
"We didn't play our best soccer of the year against Prospect last week, but we also know that every team we play wants to beat us because we're one of the top rated teams in the state," said Ingham."I know it will make us all better knowing that's the way it will be this year, and in games like this, it will bring the best out of all of us also."
Szczesny made it interesting with a goal at 76 minutes, but the Bison were able to weather the final moments and earn their biggest victory of the season thus far.