Senior Josh Gratz broke a 0-0 deadlock inside nine minutes to give visiting Cary-Grove's boys soccer team a hard fought 1-0 victory over Barrington on Saturday afternoon on the turf at Barrington Community Stadium.
The Trojans (1-1-0) endured a torrid start from the hosts, but after that initial burst from the defending Mid-Suburban West champions, Scott Steib's club couldn't find the necessary urgency.
"We just weren't sharp today, from front-to-back, and right now it would be difficult to find a lot of positive things to say about the way we played overall," said Steib, who watched his Broncos open the season with 5-0 victory over Niles North last Monday night.
"We came out so flat," said Barrington senior Tyler Anderson. "Cary-Grove really tightened things up in the middle against us, and we just kind of fell into this lull where we didn't connect much of anything. As a team we might have gotten a little frustrated and discouraged, and it showed in our play, and ultimately the final score."
The Trojans, who lost plenty from last year's team to graduation, including 20-goal scorer Kevin Wilde, had little to show for its effort going forward during the first period thanks to good defensive work from Barrington along with a strong wind which was roaring in favor of the Broncos.
"We knew we had to try and soak up as much pressure as we could in the first half because of the wind, and for the most part we did," said Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson, who credited a save by Dezso Csoka and good defensive work from Brad Sigsworth and Patrick McKune with helping the Trojans weather the strom.
"We got out of that first half without giving one up," said Gratz, "and coach told us with the wind in the second half, we'd better get some shots on frame if we expect to have a chance to score."
Csoka went high into the air to push a 30-yard wind-aided free kick from Jack Harrington around the back post in the early going. Later, the senior keeper did the same against Casey Slingo in the 23rd minute.
The best chance for the Broncos came at 31 minutes when Austin Grzebieniak steered his left-footer wide from 12 yards to keep things goal-less heading into the break.
The Trojans effort was evident in the second half, with quality work coming from the midfield quartet of Xavier Nevoraski, Luis Lemus, Scott Wilde and Gratz.
"We never had much urgency out there today," said Steib.
The Broncos (1-1-0) paid for some spotty play in their own end with Gratz taking full advantage of his opportunity.
"I was watching the eye of the defender, and when I saw where the ball was going, I quickly stepped in to intercept and got the ball onto my left foot before letting a shot go," Gratz said with a smile.
His strike found its way into the upper corner, far enough away that keeper Alex Ruffalo had no chance save the attempt in the 71st minute.
"We played a nice opening match with a very good Boylan team the other night but lost 2-1," said Olson, "so coming back against an always well-coached and talented program like Barrington (and) getting a win ends a good week for us."
The Broncos open pool play in their annual Barrington Classic tournament on Tuesday against Crystal Lake South at 7 p.m.