Barrington moved a step closer to another Mid-Suburban West Division crown in girls soccer following a hard-fought 2-0 victory against host Conant on Monday.
The victory for the Fillies (9-1-2, 6-1-0, 18 points) puts the reigning MSL champs 6 points clear of the Cougars (7-3-1, 4-2-1, 13 points) in the West standings.
"This was a good way to start a very busy week of soccer for us," said Barrington's Carrie Madden, who broke the hearts of the home fans with a stunning strike at 68 minutes.
"We decided to come out and just sit in and counter when we could," said Conant coach Jason Franco, "but even with that, I thought Barrington had the run of play for almost the entire first half.
"I thought maybe we had the equalizer (at 57 minutes), but the center official ruled we ran into the keeper -- I don't know. But we came back after that and battled, and put them under. But Madden is a terrific player, and she showed it with a great goal to kind of end things for us."
The visitors came out flying despite playing without leading scorer Jenna Szczesny (14 goals) as Madden, Elli Ackermann, and freshman Kayla Schutter set the tempo in a first half which was played mostly in the Cougars' end.
"I was a little surprised to see Conant sitting in with five (defenders), then dropping another two or three," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren, "but we still found a way to create a lot of opportunites. We've got to finish some of those, especially off of corners and free kicks.
"Tonight you saw just how dangerous Carrie can be, and how dominant Nicole (Niro) can be in the air -- and how important both of them are to this team."
The Cougars' tactical approach during the first 40 minutes kept its potent duo of Leah Celarek and Bianca Madonia stationed back in their own end, which helped Conant absorb pressure but prevented much from getting going on the attack.
"If I had it to do again, and knowing that Szczesny wouldn't be playing tonight, maybe we would have played it a little differently. But with that said, I was very proud of the effort from the girls to keep Barrington at bay, especially in the first half," said Franco.
Despite the defensive posture, Conant couldn't do much when Ackermann unleashed a 22-yard strike just inside the post with an assist from Madden to put Barrington ahead at the half-hour.
Nicole Lorenz, Katie Lomas and Drew Wentzel did well in clearing a handful of serves off corners and dead-balls from Mia Calamari to help junior keeper Haley Anderson protected during the first period.
Anderson stopped Ackermann just after intermission when Niro's nifty flick put her teammate in close. And Anderson again made a confident save on freshman Maesyn Poidomani when she was sent through by Madden at the back post in the 63rd minute.
Lomas initiated the call Franco disputed by starting a terrific ball out of the back, forcing keeper Hannah Luedtke to come off her line. The center official ruled that contact from the Cougars was the reason Luedtke lost control of the ball.
Poidomani later showed Madden the way with a devastating early ball through on the left side. Once clear of her mark, Madden drove a blast just under the crossbar to give the Fillies a 2-goal advantage 12 minutes from time.
"It felt good to finally score a big goal, in an important game," said Madden, who now has 4 goals this season.
"It was a big 3 points for us tonight, and against one of the top teams in our division, and the MSL," said Stengren, whose club hosts Elk Grove on Wednesday.
Conant faces No. 1-rated Buffalo Grove on Wednesday, followed by Hinsale Central on Thursday as the Naperville Invite resumes.
Prospect 2, Palatine 1 (OT): The visiting Knights notched an MSL triumph as Kim Welk scored near the end of the first OT with an assist from Sarah LaCost.
LaCost scored in regulation with an assist from Martina Kowalczuk.
Morgan Radtke scored unassisted for Palatine goal.
Buffalo Grove 1, Stevenson 0: Megan Gardner's second-half goal, assisted by Sabrina Guercio, helped the visiting Bison pull out a nonconferernce victory as Sarah O'Connor earned a shut in goal for BG (16-1).