Sophomore Annalise Avers got the perfect birthday present Wednesday afternoon after scoring the first goal for Barrington and helping on two others in the Fillies' 9-0 romp over No. 4 seed Round Lake on the turf of Barrington Community Stadium in a regional first-round matchup.
The No. 1 Fillies (14-4-1) next face North Suburban Conference champion Lake Zurich (9-6-3) on Friday in the regional final after the Bears overpowered Grant 7-0 in the second match of the night.
"We did what we had to do today, but now our focus must turn towards preparing for Lake Zurich, which is a very talented opponent and a team which recently won its conference championship," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren.
A tough opening doomed the visiting Panthers (2-17-0), who conceded 3 goals in the first eight minutes, then another 3 before intermission to throw Andres Orbe's club off course.
"You can never allow a team which is so well coached, and has so many good soccer players to score so early and often, but although we did, I can honestly say my team never gave in and played hard right to the last whistle," said Orbe.
Jenna Szczesny ran away from the Panthers' defense down the left side, then sent a low cross to the back post where Annalise Avers slotted home the only goal her club would need at two minutes. A minute later, her sister Alex drove home a one-timer to double Barrington's lead.
Szczesny scored the first of her two goals, Nos. 18 and 19 of the season, when the Panthers had trouble clearing in their own end. Then, with a brilliant touch, the sophomore made it 4-0 after keeper Jordan Devera stopped her close-range shot, only to give up a rebound in close to the still-moving Szczesny, whose one-timer went just inside the back post.
"The focus of this team, regardless of the opponent and its record, is to continue to play it one game at a time, and to play smart and with a lot of energy, and with a high work rate," said Annalise Avers, who was celebrating her Sweet 16th.
Stengren brought on fresh legs throughout the first half, and especially when his club went up 7-0 on an Elli Ackerman goal from a wonderful serve by Katie Hoots to open the second period.
The Fillies welcomed back senior Emily Morin into the starting lineup after she missed nearly three weeks with an injury. Also back was defender Emily Decraene, who had missed time recently.
Hollis Anderson scored her third goal of the match just two minutes from time, with Kelsey Muniz recording helpers on her first two, and Jennifer Flannery assisting on the last.
Aimee Pierce got her name into the scorebook at 38 minutes.
The loss marked the final match of her career for Round Lake's Elizabeth Salgado, who did well along the back as well as during some time in the middle as a defensive midfielder.
"Elizabeth has been a great player for us, and, actually, this was just her third game back for us after suffering a broken clavicle early in the season," said Orbe. "You can see how valuable she is out there for us, and how much we miss her skill and talent. But we'll be back bigger and better next year, and with our eyes on getting to 9-10 victories."