Senior-led Barrington unites in search of girls hockey state title

 
By Ross Forman
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/16/2016 9:50 PM
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  • Andrea Renner leads the Barrington co-op girls hockey team in its pursuit of a state championship Friday at the United Center.

    Andrea Renner leads the Barrington co-op girls hockey team in its pursuit of a state championship Friday at the United Center. Submitted photo

  • Andrea Renner

    Andrea Renner

The co-op Barrington Fillies girls hockey team skates for the state championship Friday at the United Center, with a family connection that anchors this dominant, flashy, fun-to-watch team -- one that wasn't even in existence last season, when it couldn't field enough players.

Led by five talented seniors who have meshed with the team's seven freshmen, Barrington is one win away from a truly incredible journey. But the No. 1-seeded Fillies must get past No. 2 Loyola after the Ramblers trounced rival New Trier 8-2 in the semifinals, played March 10 in Bensenville. The Fillies slipped past No. 5 Lake Forest 4-2 in the other semi.

The puck drops at 4 p.m. Friday.

"It should be a really good game; goaltending will be the key," said Barrington coach Rob Renner, who brings his Barrington team into the United Center with a 23-3-2 overall record. The Fillies were 13-1 in Metro Girls regular-season league play, with the lone loss coming to Loyola, 5-3, last November in Crystal Lake. Barrington then went 8-2-2 in the seven-team, top-tiered Scholastic Cup playoffs.

Barrington also has a win and a tie against Loyola this season.

"One of the biggest challenges is to present this as just another game," Renner said. "It's tough to walk into that venue and not overthink things -- and that's when things might not work out well."

Barrington got an instant explanation on skating for state at the United Center after the semifinal victory from Robert Renner, who flew home to Chicago from Florida, where he is a Division I red-shirt freshman golfer. Robert is the Barrington coach's son and the brother of the Fillies' top player, Andrea. Robert was a three-year varsity hockey player at St. Viator who played on its 2012 team that lost to St. Rita in the state championship.

Andrea wants to be the sibling to hoist the state title -- and she's already grilled Robert about the ice surface, the boards and more at the United Center.

"It's going to be fun; I'm really looking forward to it; it's going to be a great experience," said Andrea, a left-handed shooting center who was second in Metro Girls regular-season scoring (30 goals, 6 assists, including 5 game-winning goals). She also had 11 goals, 9 assists in 8 Scholastic Cup games. "It will be surreal with my dad on the bench; that will be sweet. My brother has been the biggest influence (on my career)."

Andrea, a senior at St. Viator who has already committed to play next season at Northeastern University, has been playing hockey since she was about 7, when Rob was an assistant coach on a team in Hoffman Estates and the goalie then was Nicole Guagliardo.

Andrea and Nicole are now known as the dynamic duo of girls' hockey -- and linemates. Guagliardo, a senior at Barrington, had 16 goals, 6 assists in league play, with 5 game-winning goals.

"They get it going when they need to," coach Renner said of his talented forwards.

Andrea and Nicole also are opponents, as is the case with many girls' players who also skate for a separate house, club or AAA team. For instance, Renner and her Chicago Young Americans team battled Guagliardo and her Chicago Mission team on March 6.

The two were Barrington teammates on March 10 in the state semifinals.

"We have fun (on the ice), but when we need to win, we win," Coach Renner said. "Continuity, particularly among the top players, has been the key this season. After all, we had our first practice of the season just two weeks ago. Otherwise, we are just together once, maybe twice, a week for games."

Senior forward Maureen Hogan (South Elgin) led the team with 9 assists in regular-season games, along with her 5 goals; junior forward Abigail Brush (Hersey) had 7 goals, 6 assists.

Barrington sophomore Eryn Cooley is the team's goalie.

Renner said she long watched her brother skate, as he too was a forward. She focused on his routes, patterns, creativity, mental approach and anticipation--"and I wanted to mimic (all) that," she said.

Andrea said Barrington's ability to set aside animosity, differences, results or tension from games when the players are foes has helped the Fillies. "We just make things happen," she said.

Several times this season, Renner and Guagliardo were rivals in the morning, then Barrington teammates at night. "We know how to separate the teams, and that's what makes us so successful when we play together," Andrea said.

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