Girls soccer: Barrington blanks St. Charles East, earns state berth
Barrington will play in its 12th state tournament in program history Friday afternoon after its 3-0 victory over St. Charles East Tuesday night in its Class 3A supersectional before a big crown at Barrington Community Stadium.
The Fillies (22-2-0) weathered an early storm with the Saints in this highly anticipated contest. Then Brooke Brown and Sarah Sarnowski took matters into their own hands after a Gracie Stagnito free kick to give the home side the only goal it would need to defeat the Saints for the second consecutive supersectional at Barrington.
"It was a gritty, hard-fought effort that helped us get this win," said Fillies senior Nicole Gwiasda, whose box-to-box play, incredible work rate and incredible ball winning skills helped the MSL champions prove too tough an obstacle for Vince DiNuzzo and his Saints (20-5-2).
"(Their) early goal wasn't much of a setback, but that late goal just before the half took something out of us. And although we created a few chances on the night, (they) were the better team and deserve to move on," said DiNuzzo, who did a masterful job of piecing together a club that lost eight starters from last year's 22-1-1 team.
"At the start of the season, I don't think a lot of us would have thought we would have come this far. (But) we were a very tight bunch who played for each other and came together to have a great season," added Saints senior Libby Thomas, who will attend Taylor University in the fall.
When the visitors were unable to only half clear a Stagnito free kick out of their own end, Sarnowski was able to keep the ball alive long enough to allow Brown to steer in her close range effort in the 12th minute.
Stagnito's long-range free kick -- into a strong wind -- found its way into the upper right hand corner despite Saints keeper Sidney Lazenby getting a glove on the 35-yard effort. That gave the Fillies a two-goal advantage heading into the intermission.
"We work all of the time trying to put something on frame when we have the opportunity, and fortunately my shot ended up in the back of the net," said Stagnito, who along with her back line mates Kathleen Baker, Caitlin Paul and Ellie Sanchez have yet to concede a goal in five postseason matches.
Gwiasda was clever in her positioning to win the ball, and quickly put Piper Lucier through on the right side. When the freshman was taken down in the box, Brown put the game nearly out of doubt when she converted her spot-kick to increase the Fillies' lead to 3-0 in the 44th minute.
Fillies keeper Abby Raynor saved her shutout in the 59th minute with a brilliant save on a 25-yard cracker from Kara Machala.
"After playing away from home during the past two weeks of the playoffs, it was great to come back to our stadium, before a big crowd, and grind out a big win with so many of the girls contributing to help us beat a great opponent," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren, whose club will play Evanston (21-2-1) at 5 p.m. Friday at North Central College in Naperville.