Girls soccer: Barrington survives Libertyville in shootout

Barrington's girls soccer team won the penalty prize Friday night to push past Libertyville and into Tuesday's Class 3A supersectional.

The No. 1-seeded Fillies escaped with a 2-1 sectional final victory at Palatine after converting their first four spot kicks, while Barrington keeper Samantha Schmitz turned away a third-round attempt by the Wildcats (14-4-2).

The result clinched an eighth consecutive supersectional appearance for the Fillies (20-2-1), who will meet the winner of Huntley (20-3-2) and Crystal Lake South (17-5-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Barrington Community Stadium.

"In a game like this, all you can do is feel like your fortunate to get out with a win and just put it behind you and move on to getting ready for your next match," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren.

For Libertyville, the loss by shootout was difficult to take.

"I told you after our win over Warren last Tuesday that we had to come out and play our best game of the year to have a chance against Barrington tonight," said Wildcats coach Andy Bitta. "And we did just that - it's just a shame that a game of this importance has to be decided with PKs, and not in extra overtime sessions."

Things didn't start well for Bitta's team, as Barrington's Kayla Keck drove in a marvelous crossfield serve from Sophia Spinell to the back post at 13 minutes, almost immediately forcing the No. 2 sectional seed to chase a team which had gone seven straight matches without conceding a goal.

But a funny thing happened after the Keck strike which nearly changed the course of this match.

Libertyville began to outwork its opponent at midfield, and with Ellie Daugerdas winning everything from her spot as the Cats' center back, and with Danielle Pacholski, Maddie Olson and Taylor Underwood providing ball-winning efforts, the Fillies' attack stalled.

"We didn't control the middle tonight, and we really had trouble matching their overall energy," said Stengren. "But we did have a couple of chances to add to our lead, which when you don't can come back and get you later."

Ashley Prell put Maesyn Poidomani through with a lovely early ball, but after the junior broke free of the last defender she fired wide of Cats keeper Al Watson in the 63rd minute.

Four minutes later, Spinell rattled the bar. And after that, the Wildcats enjoyed the run of play through the rest of regulation and up until they equalized two minutes from time.

"We didn't play our best soccer tonight, but some of that had to do with the way Libertyville played, so they deserve a lot of credit also," said Schmitz after her PK heroics.

Julia Neiweem, who had the Fillies under pressure all night long with her piercing long-range free kicks, started the sequence which led to the Wildcats drawing even when the Fillies failed to clear the area of Neiweem's service. Annie Thompson somehow finished the chance in a crowd.

"I thought we might have them when we got that goal, and we almost did in that second overtime period," said Bitta, who watched Thompson find the post and then Jackie Widmark's rebound saved by Schmitz in the 96th minute.

"Sam is a great keeper," said Stengren, "but most fans don't see it because our defense rarely lets anyone give her a good challenge. But in training, and away from match day, she is really something special."

Michayla Herr, Keck, and Spinell put plenty of pressure on Wildcats shooters in the first three PK rounds, and when Schmitz saved a Maddie Olson attempt and Anna Brodjian finished off the game for good, the Fillies mobbed their keeper and minutes later lifted the sectional hardware handed out by host Palatine.

"I read what way she was going with her shot, so I was in the right place at the right time," said Schmitz of her superb decisive save.

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