Boys soccer: Barrington rises to the task, stops Evanston in OT

By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/1/2016 11:28 PM

Barrington picked itself up off the floor after Evanston had knocked the Broncos down.

And with Michael Blanke scoring an astonishing go-ahead goal in extra time, Barrington's boys soccer team is off to this weekend's Class 3A state finals following a 2-1 double-overtime triumph.

The Broncos won a thrilling 100-minute marathon Tuesday on their own field to capture a supersectional crown and advance into the state semifinals at Hoffman Estates High School. Barrington will meet Mid-Suburban West rival Conant (16-7-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.

"How about that?" proclaimed Barrington coach Scott Steib after watching his players accept the championship trophy to officially secure a spot in the state finals for the first time since 2002, when the Broncos won it all.

Zach Carbonara put Barrington ahead 1-0 before Evanston's Miguel Jimenez tied it with a great goal.

"To be honest, I really felt the goal Zach scored might just hold up -- until No. 11 (Jimenez) hit that unbelievable goal to get them back into the game and give them so much energy."

That the Broncos (23-3-1) survived a ferocious fight-back by the Wildkits (19-2-4) was a testament to a team that showed its mettle throughout the postseason, beginning with an edgy 1-0 victory over Buffalo Grove, leading to three tense victories against Mundelein, then Libertyville and finally Franx Calixte's team from Evanston.

"That was quite a game tonight, wasn't it?" said the Wildkits head coach, who for the second time in as many years watched his season end in a supersectional. "I thought we might have had them after Miguel got us back even with that amazing shot of his -- which, by the way, isn't the first time he's hit one like that.

"We had the legs and the momentum in that second half, but things didn't go the way we planned in that first overtime period, and that's the way it goes sometime in this sport."

An entertaining match which just as easily could have been a state semifinal or championship match had the full attention of a terrific crowd, which cheered every sharp tackle, exquisite pass and near-miss from start to finish.

The first half produced only a couple of half chances by both sides.

Barrington finished the opening 40 minutes strong and started the second period with something to build on as Hudson Walsh put Gio Guarnero through on the right side. Guarnero sent a quality ball into the box, forcing Evanston keeper Gavin Rosengarten to save.

Moments later, Carbonara, from an seemingly unthreatening position, cleverly got past a pair of defenders before his perfectly weighted effort found its way into the goal.

"We were playing so well in the last part of the first half, and to get that early goal like we did -- well, I thought that's the way it would end," Carbonara said. "Until that unbelievable goal from Evanston got them back even."

That goal was a magnificent strike from Jimenez, who came from the left before unloading a 40-yard blast into the upper-right corner.

"Even if Alex (Ruffolo) was 7 feet tall, he would not have been able to get to that cracker of a shot," said Steib.

The 66th-minute equalizer brought the Wildkits back to life.

"We were fighting for our lives for awhile," said Carbonara, whose mates had to live with tireless pressing from their opponents as Jimenez, Wes Harrell and Colin Thompson pressured the Barrington back line of Nash Pirie, John Gadbois, Josh Coulter and Walsh.

"This team, like few others we've had in recent memory, has a lot of grit and fight in it," said Steib.

The five-minute respite before the first of two 10-minute extra periods appeared to be just what the doctor ordered for the Broncos.

In the 88th minute, Blanke was set free up the right side, and the sophomore used a burst to beat one defender, then accelerated again before driving his attempt off an Evanston defender and past Rosengarten, who had no chance on the redirected shot.

"I just don't have the words right now to express how I am feeling about that goal, but I do know the moment that ball went in, I began to cry for a moment," said Blanke of his 10th goal of the season.

"I am proud of each and everyone of my guys," Steib said, "and just thrilled that all of their hard work has helped get them into the last weekend of the season. It's something none of them will forget."

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