Girls soccer: Barrington picks up key win over Conant
Freshman Riley Raynor was the hero as Barrington edged Conant in a pulsating 100 minute girls soccer game that somehow finished with only one goal at the final whistle.
The Fillies (13-2-1, 9-1-0, 27 points) won a tight and tense divisional contest at Barrington Community Stadium Wednesday night, beating their great rivals 1-0 to move 2 points ahead of the Cougars (13-2-2, 8-1-1, 25 points) with one game remaining.
"We played a great game, to beat a great Conant team, but we still haven't accomplished anything," said a relieved Fillies head coach Ryan Stengren, whose club used Raynor's 11th goal of the season, and an airtight defense against star forward Stephanie Mazurek to draw one step closer to its eighth consecutive Mid-Suburban West title
"It was an even, hard-fought game in which they did a very good job of defending (Mazurek) then used its athleticism, ball-winning ability and work rate to get a win that we were hoping to do as well to close them out for good," said a disappointed Conant head coach Jason Franco.
Franco and his club will look to Buffalo Grove for some help this Friday against Barrington, while the Cougars take on Wheeling in their season finale.
Franco was correct in his assessment of an evenly played game -- that is in the first half, when neither side generated quality chances on frame while both clubs made sure there was little time and space to create and distribute.
"It was the type of game we expected. (Conant) came in ranked higher than us because of some their results against very good opponents, and having a great goal scorer as well," said Madi Rosen, who along with Christine Batliner and Ashley Rocco, are the only seniors on the Fillies' roster.
Mazurek, who came in with 24 goals, had little room to maneuver on this night with both Juliana Moreno and Kate McGreevy always there when the all-state candidate collected the ball.
"Stephanie had one in front of her, and one in the back, and we were not able to create much for her, or her teammates," said Franco.
Barrington immediately came into the game after the break, and would maintain most of the play with the effort and work rate Franco spoke of by winning a high percentage of 50-50 and second balls to keep things in the Cougars' end.
Rocco and Cougars junior Neda Ocampo impressed all throughout the night in the center of the park while Delaney Hoye and Maddie Kuffel would shine just as brightly as their center back counterparts Moreno and McGreevy.
With the pressure mounting, Rosen would drive her left-footed 30-yard attempt just off the bar in the 52nd minute, just before Rebecca Shomaker headed wide a Ellie McAuley cross.
Raynor nearly redirected a short clearing effort by Olivia Messerges after a teammate played the ball back to the Cougars' keeper but Raynor didn't miss when it counted the most.
"My chance would have never happened if not for the work of Ashley (Armando), who gave me a great ball, then I was just fortunate to have been able to get a good shot off," said Raynor of her brilliant angled finish from the right side.
"It was a fantastic team goal because of the build up but Riley, who has a great left foot, did so well to get the ball onto her left foot and find the far corner of the net," said Rosen.
"There wasn't a lot of great soccer played tonight, but as I said, Barrington's fitness and ability to win balls in so many ways was likely the difference tonight," admitted Franco.