Barrington's off to the Final Four
It's been a rarity for Barrington girls soccer coach Ryan Stengren, but despite four ties and one loss, there's been times this season where his Fillies have either fallen behind or come up short.
Yet, in Tuesday's 3-1 Class 3A supersectional win over Huntley on their home turf at Barrington Community Stadium, this wasn't the same as forcing ties with Neuqua Valley or Waubonsie Valley in the beginning of the season. This was a rare comeback win with an elimination factor and a state berth on the line -- a spot the Fillies have gone 1-6 in the last 6 years.
"We've shown an ability to come back, that's a very good thing to have," said Stengren. "It's a good character trait for these kids, too. We looked very lethargic in the first part of the game. I don't know if we got caught up in the big crowd in being at home. That's not usually the way we come out and we usually dictate more. That's not how I envisioned the start of the game."
The 1-0 start for Huntley (19-4) in the 16th minute ended Barrington's 4-game postseason shutout streak, but the Fillies (21-1-4) staved off the defeat with 3 unanswered goals, including Kelsey Muniz's equalizer in the 36th minute and second half goals from Haley Tausend and Jenna Szczesny.
And in the end, although it didn't start off the way the Fillies are used to, they have their second Final Four appearance in the last 3 years.
And the win allowed a couple of things to happen this Friday: a 7 p.m. state semifinal matchup with New Trier at North Central College in Naperville and a chance at revenge as New Trier knocked Barrington out in last year's supersectional.
"We know there's more to come and harder games ahead of us," said Tausend, who touched in the game-winner 7:30 into the second half. "We know we have to push harder to win the state championship."
Minus last season when both teams lost to different teams in supers, it was the sixth time in six tries dating back to 2009 that the Mid-Suburban League champs ended the Red Raiders' postseason hopes. The teams had never met this late in that span, but Barrington was the aggressor coming out with complete control of possession.
The Fillies held a 23-3 shot advantage, including a 14-1 advantage at the half. But for all the pressure put on Huntley the Red Raiders, again playing without injured senior standout Deanna Hecht, got on the board first when Taryn Jakubowski took possession down the right touchline and found Victoria Padal for a high boot inside the box from 10 yards out for the game's first score.
"We knew we had the ability to score on them," Red Raiders coach Kris Grabner said. "No matter hard good they are, we had a good enough attack and early on it went back and forth and we just weren't getting that final and we finally got the final pass and Tori did a great job finishing it. That was that gut shot we were looking for."
But in gut-check time, Barrington responded with a header from Muniz just before the half thanks to a cross off a set piece delivered by Anna Brodjian from the left sideline, and it wasn't the first time she'd come up big in the clutch.
In the 47th minute, her boot off a corner kick allowed Tausend, who was marking Huntley keeper Paige Renkosik, to capitalize just inside the left post off a ricochet for the 2-1 lead.
"We try to work on crosses a lot so I was trying to cross it into the 6 so someone could get a head on it," Brodjian said. "(Jackie Batliner) got a head on it and a good finish by Haley."
Szczesny was marked all game by Huntley midfielder Katie Costantino, but she was able to put the insurance goal through in the 73rd minute on a header from Kayla Schutter. The Fillies were 3-for-16 in attempts on goal, and in part due to Renkosik, who had 13 saves, including 4 huge saves prior to Barrington's tying goal. All despite the fact Barrington won nearly every 50/50 ball, controlled the midfield and peppered the Huntley goal throughout.
"She was average," Grabner joked. "She did a great job. Just over and over and over being big. Good hands. I'm really proud of her."
"You have to stay focused, and you have to stay in the game, you have to keep your defense in the game, and keeping your defense keeps you in the game," Renkosik said. "You know you're not going to go out and get it. You have to turn quickly and get set on your goal line and react when you have to react."