Girls soccer: Brodjian's boot lifts Barrington
When the goal finally arrived, 47 minutes into a tiring, hard-fought contest between two long-time Mid-Suburban League girls soccer rivals, one could feel the weight lifted off the shoulders of Barrington.
The top-seeded Fillies had been on their heels for most of those 47 minutes against its worthy opponent, Fremd.
Anna Brodjian had taken down a free ball in the box after teammate Jackie Batliner sent a wonderful ball in from near the midline. Then with a superb left-footed volley, Brodjian drove the game-winner past a diving Kelsey Stone to finally give the MSL champs a score.
Barrington (19-2-1) went on to win 1-0.
"It was the game we expected, and for those 45-plus minutes (Fremd) played a nearly perfect game against us to keep us from doing much of anything," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren, whose team will meet Libertyville (13-4-3) at 6 p.m. Friday in the Class 3A Palatine sectional final.
"It was fun out there today," said Vikings coach Steve Keller, who devised a brilliant tactical plan for his club, which played it near flawlessly to keep the vaunted Fillies attack under wraps.
Fremd meanwhile, created three quality chances. Keller thinks if his team had finished just one of them, the game might have had a different outcome.
"None of our girls should feel cheated or sad, because what they accomplished today was something all of them should be proud of," he said. "I know that's the way I feel about their effort and with they way they played."
The No. 10 seed looked more like a top seed from the opening whistle, playing smart and steady along the back while owning most of the midfield action inside Chic Anderson Stadium and creating a couple of great chances with Emilijia Peleckas at the center of each of them.
The junior turned sharply after her run up the right side, then drove her low attempt towards the back post. If not for a timely tackle from Batliner, who parried the ball out of danger, the Vikings (10-8-4) might have struck first in the 18th minute.
Moments later, a nice early ball out of the back from Kellier Halloran set Peleckas free, forcing Fillies keeper Samantha Schmitz to save her shot.
Now brimming with confidence, the Vikings continued to win first and second balls all over the place, while keeping the center of the park clogged up with numbers. That encouraged the Fillies to play the ball wide, but they were unable to do that thanks to the constant pressure from Fremd.
"We just were not very good in the middle during that first half -- except for Anna, who helped us out by winning her fair share of 50-50 balls away from Fremd," Stengren said.
"We just had to keep working as hard as we could, especially in that first half when Fremd had control of this game, and it took everyone to come together in order for us to do so," said Brodjian, a junior.
As intermission drew closer, Stengren brought on Lauren Caffe and Sydney Bowling, and the duo gave Barrington some much needed pace and energy. That carried over after the break, when the two young players shone once more.
The Vikings had two more terrific chances come their way just moments into the second half, with the first and best of the night turned up and over the bar when Schmitz elevated at the last second to deny Mckenna Miller's shot.
Julia Szylke almost found the back post with her 25-yard free kick before Kayla Schutter was ruled offside on a denied goal which would have given the Fillies the lead at 46 minutes.
Less than sixty seconds later, Brodjian didn't miss with her 16-yard finish.
"We really needed to finish our chances, but we didn't," said Szylke.
"When we had to start chasing the game, you could see the heat begin to take a lot out of our legs, and although the heat is no excuse for this loss there's no doubt it took a toll on us when we got behind, and they began to play with that lead," said Stone, an all-state keeper candidate.
The Fillies enjoyed most of the run of play and possession as they continued to manage their advantage while the Vikings threw more numbers forward.
Stengren's club registered its 18th shutout of the season while moving another big step forward in the postseason.
"It wasn't pretty out there, but we got out of here with a big win against a great conference rival, who gave us all we could handle until we got that goal," said Stengren.