Girls soccer: Bartlett, St. Charles North eye conference titles
Bartlett (5-0-1) picked up a huge Upstate Eight Conference victory on Monday night, beating Elgin (9-3-1, 5-2) to put itself in an excellent position for another conference title.
The Maroons missed a penalty kick in the first half while the Hawks got a goal from Alexis DeRango on a ball from fellow senior Madison Neer to take a 1-0 lead in the second half. Neer then used her size to score on a header from senior Sabrina Fowler to give the Hawks some insurance.
"She's our tallest player and really wanted to score," Bartlett coach Vince Revak said. "She kind of barreled through the defense and got a great header."
Revak acknowledged that the game wasn't a thing a beauty but that the Hawks stuck with it and kept battling.
"I told them at half that they controlled their own destiny so win the half," he said. "They were ready to go. It got pretty chippy in the second half and was probably our most physical game of the year."
Bartlett still has three conference games remaining against South Elgin, Glenbard South and East Aurora while the Rams (10-5-1, 5-0-1) still have Glenbard South, Larkin and Fenton.
Bartlett's only non-wins in conference the past two seasons have been ties to the Rams, including a 1-1 decision on April 27. The Hawks haven't lost a conference game since a 1-0 defeat to Elgin on May 6, 2019.
Elgin's hopes for a conference title soured after back-to-back shutout losses to Bartlett and Glenbard East.
In another competitive conference race, St. Charles North (13-2, 4-0) controls its own destiny in the DuKane Conference. The North Stars host Batavia (10-5-2, 4-1) on May 12 and also have games against Glenbard North (2-11-3, 1-4) and Wheaton North (8-5, 2-2) remaining. The Bulldogs host St. Charles East (13-4-1, 3-1) on Thursday. The Saints remain alive for the conference championship but would need some help from Batavia and also would need to beat Geneva (10-6-2, 1-2) on Saturday and Wheaton North next week.
Tough break for Kaneland:
At least Kaneland coach Scott Parillo, who also coaches the boys team in the fall, knows what this feels like.
Parillo was experiencing a bit of déjà vu on Saturday as the top-seeded Knights lost the Interstate Eight Conference championship to second-seeded Sycamore in a shootout after batting for 80 minutes of scoreless soccer.
Just a few years ago, it was the Knights who were the second seed that stunned the Spartans in the title game 1-0 on a Tucker Jahns goal with 23 seconds left.
The Knights (12-3-1) had shut out the Spartans 3-0 earlier this year but just couldn't convert any of their scoring chances and then misfired on their first two PK tries.
"It's unfortunate we couldn't finish any of them and had to go to PKs," Parillo said. "So it's second place in conference, which is unfortunate, but next year (the format) changes and there will be a conference champ at the end of the regular season and they are also going to have a tournament champion."
Playing time key for Batavia:
Batavia may not have got the results it was hoping for during last weekend's Tournament of Champions in Burlington, Iowa, but basically its entire roster received playing time and the Bulldogs will look to use that experience to finish the regular season strong as they remain in the hunt for a conference title.
Batavia opened the tournament with a win over Waukee Northwest from Iowa with Bella Lins scoring the only goal. Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco reported that 19 of 20 players saw action in the win. The Bulldogs fell, 2-1, to St. Teresa's Academy from Kansas with Jaden Collins scoring off a Ryan Gianfrancesco corner kick. The Bulldogs played 20 of 21 of their available players in that game.
In their finale, five Batavia players were rested for a variety of reasons including simply for a much-needed rest and the Bulldogs were blanked 1-0 by Middleton from Wisconsin.
"We had a ton of chances," Mark Gianfrancesco said. "We just couldn't finish."
2022 Chicago Red Stars all-tournament team:
St. Charles North's Bella Najera and St. Charles East's Anna Champine were named to the first all-tournament team in the Naperville Invitational. Geneva's Caroline Madden was a second team selection while Bartlett's Laney Stark, Burlington Central's Brianna Domaleczny and St. Charles East's Ella Stehman received honorable mention recognition.
State tourney time:
The postseason begins for some of the smaller area schools next week, which includes Class 1A Rosary and Aurora Central, both that are hosting regionals. Rosary welcomes Phoenix Military Academy from Chicago for a semifinal on May 10 while the Chargers host Lisle in a semifinal on May 11.
Burlington Central, Crystal Lake South and Kaneland are among the area's Class 2A schools that are hosting. The Gators take on familiar foe Prairie Ridge in a semifinal with the winner likely meeting Crystal Lake Central for a regional title. Burlington Central is taking on Cary-Grove in its state series opener.
In Class 3A, Geneva, Dundee-Crown, Hampshire, Huntley and Streamwood are all hosting. The Vikings are looking for their first regional title in five years and likely would get Wheaton Warrenville South in the title game. Interestingly, the Vikings and Tigers will meet in a DuKane Conference game on May 10. If higher seeds win in the Dundee-Crown regional, the Chargers would get Jacobs in the regional final. Coincidentally, those two squads are set to battle in the Fox Valley Conference on May 10. At Streamwood, the Sabres will first have to defeat Larkin to get top-seeded St. Charles North and then would have to upset the North Stars to advance to face Elgin or Bartlett in the regional title game.