Girls soccer: Barrington tops Buffalo Grove for MSL title
Barrington has earned the Mid-Suburban League girls soccer championship for a fifth straight time and the ninth time in program history after seeing off a determined challenge from Buffalo Grove 2-0 on Wednesday night in in the 27th MSL Soccer Bowl.
Maesyn Poidomani drove into the the visitors' penalty area to drive in the eventual game-winner in the 46th minute before Fillies senior Sophia Spinell was on the end of a superb ball from Jackie Batliner to double the lead just after the hour to all but seal the seventh league title won by coach Ryan Stengren.
"I couldn't be more proud of the girls and this team right now," said Stengren after his club lifted MSL trophy before its home fans at Barrington Community Stadium. "Buffalo Grove played a nearly perfect tactical game against us, and Pat (Dudle) and his team should be congratulated for the way they stayed organized the entire night. But after a few adjustments at the break, we came out, put them under pressure and finished our chances to come away with a big win."
"We knew if we tried to play with Barrington (that) it would be a long night for us," explained Dudle, "so we had to put as many players as possible behind the ball, try to keep the game close, and maybe put one in on the counter. It was a good game plan, and one that the girls played so well tonight. But (the Fillies) are a very good team, and it's almost impossible to keep them out of your net for 80 minutes."
The Bison were in a modified 4-5-1 formation, with Courtney Lee and Georgette Topalis stationed just in front of the Buffalo Grove back line, almost as holding midfielders, with Dudle asking his lone striker up top to make runs at the Fillies' back line.
"Barrington is so good," said Lee, "but we didn't feel they were 5-0 better than us, which is what the result was the first time around. But we still had to come out and play this way in order to give us a chance against a team that can attack in so many ways."
After intermission, Lee was moved forward and turned in a tremendously energetic 40 minutes.
The Fillies struggled to muster an attacking threat with what seemed like dozens of defenders all around them in the final third of the field. Despite Barrington creating six corners, several deep throws and three half-chances at BG keeper Cassie Berman, the match was goal-less at the break.
"Buffalo Grove was very good in their own end, and we didn't play as quick and fast as we usually do in order to create chances for ourselves," said Poidomani, a junior who scored her ninth goal of the season. "But at the break we made a few adjustments and were reminded to do the little things that can impact a game. And when we did, we were able to put a couple of goals in."
BG's inability to clear its own end allow Poidomani to collect the ball, shed a hard tackle by a Bison defender and get free before steering a well-aimed shot past Berman.
With the Barrington midfield beginning to find its form, and with nearly a half-dozen great wins with headers by Anna Brodjian, the Fillies slowly began to take control of the run of play.
Batliner, during a halftime presentation to honor each of the all-MSL players for 2016, was named player of the year in the MSL West. And she proved to be the architect on the Fillies' second goal when she drove to the endline and drove her cross right onto the foot of Spinell at the back post. Spinnell finished with a brilliant one-touch effort.
"Maybe we were all a little anxious at the start, because we didn't play as well as we know we could," said Spinnell. "But we never lost our composure, and when we came out in the second half, there was more urgency in our play and we were able to get that first goal early on."
Lee and Alyssa Floro, who struck the game-winner in overtime in the season finale to send the Bison into this match, nearly surprised the Fillies on the counter after the Spinell goal. But that was about it for the visitors, who now turn their attention toward the postseason and a regional they host beginning next Tuesday.
"We couldn't ask for much more from this team tonight, but maybe we found a way to be even more competitive when the playoffs start next week," said Dudle.
The MSL champs, given the No. 1 seed in the Palatine sectional, open state playoff action at home on Tuesday against Wheeling, with either Stevenson or Palatine next in the regional final next Friday evening.