Szczesny steps up again for Barrington
As she has been all season long, senior Jenna Szczesny was a difference-maker.
The Barrington forward struck for both goals Tuesday afternoon in helping the Fillies march into the Glenbrook South girls soccer sectional final with a 2-0 victory over Buffalo Grove at John Davis Stadium in Glenview.
The Fillies next meet Lake Zurich (18-3-2), which edged Hersey 1-0 in the second OT Tuesday, in a sectional final at Glenbrook South at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"The weather and windy, and rainy conditions got us out of the way we normally play, but after awhile, we found a way to get back into it a little bit more and settle in," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren. "And then we got 2 great goals from Jenna to help put us through."
The goals were No. 34 and 35 this spring for Szczesny, and No. 100 in her illustrious career.
"You can bet I will send Jenna a graduation card," said Buffalo Grove coach Pat Dudle with a smile. "She's an unbelievable talent who's certainly ruined the postseason for us a couple of times, as well as others along the way. And today she showed why she's the best around."
One season ago, Szczesny dashed Buffalo Grove's hopes by scoring both goals in a 2-1 sectional final victory.
This time, her 2 goals came within 30 seconds of one another, giving Barrington all it needed to reach the sectional final.
"I don't know if it was the rain and wind, or the way that (Buffalo Grove) played us, but it wasn't one of our better efforts at the start," said Barrington's Ann Marie Niro. "But after there was an injury at six or seven minutes, I think we kind of got back a little closer to the way we played, and really, at this time of the season, it's all about moving on."
Buffalo Grove approach helped keep the Fillies' attack from getting too comfortable.
"We went in with a plan to defend the weakside, take as much as we could away from Jenna, and try to keep (Niro) from getting too many touches in the middle," said Dudle. "I thought we did very well with that, but when we had a little letdown, that was it, and suddenly it was 2-0."
After both teams battled windy conditions for the first 10 minutes, the Bison (14-6-1) had the first opportunity when all-state forward Sarah O'Connor drove a wind-blown free kick straight on frame at keeper Hannah Luedtke.
The half-hour mark finally brought the best out of the Fillies (19-1-4), with Soph Spinell just missing the near post with an attempt, followed by a nicely aimed strike from Maesyn Poidomani, which went over the bar in the 34th minute.
Kelsey Muniz was the architect on the eventual game-winner, holding smartly around the mid-line before finding Niro, whose early ball down the left side brought Bison keeper Cassie Berman far off her line to challenge Szczesny. But the senior touched past Berman and scored on an open net in the 52nd minute.
Kayla Schutter provided another defense-splitting early ball for Szczesny moments later. She finished it by lashing an angled drive into the back of the net.
The Bison, who pour their heart and soul out until the final whistle, never let up in intensity. They continued to look for holes in a stubborn Fillies back line.
Sara Busse fired over the bar, Maria Hamilton found the post in the 66th minute after O'Connor and Busse brought her in close. And with two minutes remaing, O'Connor, on the turn, forced Fillies keeper Hannah Luedtke to save a 16-yard blast.
"It's tough to see an end to a great run by the remaining seniors (Jessica Kovach, Busse, O'Connor, Hamilton) who had so much to do with a four-year period in which we won countless games, and tournaments, got to the state tournament, and provided so many great memories for themselves and our program," said Dudle.