State title dream eludes Barrington
At the end, it was not just one team winning and another losing, but a dream dashed.
On a cool night, after nearly 100 minutes of absorbing and fascinating play, New Trier dealt Barrington a cruel fate with a 98th-minute goal to edge the Fillies 1-0 and reach a second consecutive Class 3A girls soccer state final.
The Trevians will face Neuqua Valley in Saturday's 7 p.m. championship matchup at North Central College in Naperville.
With the second of Friday's state semifinals just two minutes away from penalty kicks, Jackie Welch got on the end of a Kelly Maday corner and thumped her header just inside the back post. That sent the Mid-Suburban League champs into Saturday's third-place match against Collinsville (21-4-1) at 5 p.m.
"This one is going to sting for awhile," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren. "It was like a state final out there tonight, much like our supersectional with them last year, in which we went back-and-forth until they slipped one in on us to win another 1-0 game."
The Trevians (26-1-1) went on to defeat St. Charles East for the title a week later at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium after surviving the Fillies.
By any measurement of quality soccer, this year's version of the Barrington-New Trier matchup did not disappoint -- top talent, drama and brilliant, even play on both sides of the ball throughout.
"I thought we may have had the best of the play tonight -- but not by much, if at all," said Stengren.
During the first period, Barrington (31-2-4) played effectively through the midfield combo of Kelsey Muniz and Ann Marie Niro. The Fillies' back line played sharp, organized soccer in front of keeper Hannah Luedtke, who was tested just a handful of times by the high-powered Trevians attack.
"Jackie (Batliner) was amazing against their two-time all-stater (Kelly Maday), and Haley (Tausend), Kayla (Keck) and Lauren (Pircher) played like four-year veterans, even though Haley and Kayla are just sophomores and Laura's a junior," said Stengren.
New Trier coach Jim Burnside said just after his club defeated Conant 3-1 in Tuesday's supersectional in Hoffman Estates that his biggest concern was keeping Fillies senior striker Jenna Szczesny (37 goals) under control. And while the two-time all-stater failed to add to her scoring record, the Trevians double-teamed the Fillies star throughout the evening, sometimes adding yet another defender to the mix when Szczesny had possession in the Trevians' end.
Despite the shadowing, Szczesny still proved dangerous, and her enterprising runs, 50-50 challenges and mere presence did open space for her teammates. And in the 31st minute, the Fillies nearly found the back of the net, only to be denied by Trevians keeper Dani Kaufman.
Soph Spinell, who had a strong night on the outside, targeted Szczesny. Her header was turned away from Kaufman, who managed to then react in time for Muniz's rebound attempt.
Kaufman was at it again just minutes into the second period, stopping Muniz after a wonderful build-up from five different players including Kayla Schutter, Szczesny, Keck and Megan Fox.
Kaufman was at the center of controversy when she raced off her line to challenge Szczesny on a 50-50 ball just inside the box, knocking the Fillies' scoring leader onto the turf with an elbow.
While Szczesny received attention from the Fillies' medical staff, the center referee made the call of a foul on Kaufman -- to loud protests from the New Trier bench.
Kaufman was carded and was forced to come off, so teammate Michelle Sokol stepped in for Spinell's spot kick, which grazed off the bar to keep things even in the 57th minute.
Natalie Laser had the best look on frame of the half in the 65th minute for the Trevians, but Luedtke saved the 20-yard strike easily.
In the closing moments of regulation, Szczesny was set free, but a marvelous tackle by Caroline Smith prevented what could have been a 1-v-1 with Kaufman.
Neither team let up with its urgency and pace during either ten-minute extra session. But consecutive corners from Maday, a strength all season for New Trier, ended Barrington's title hopes.
"It was an epic soccer match, in my opinion," said Stengren. "Both teams deserved to win, but even though it's a cruel way to go out, you still have to make a play at one point. We didn't, and they did.
"Despite the loss, I am still very proud of everyone. They left it all out there tonight, but they will pull themselves together and come back at it tomorrow, just as they have all year."