Girls soccer: Winning formula holds up for Barrington against Lake Zurich
The tried and the tested delivered for Barrington's girls soccer team in Gurnee on Tuesday afternoon as tight defense and the Fillies' two top goal-scorers came through once again.
Barrington (24-1-0) is back in a sectional final for the ninth consecutive year thanks to first-half goals from Ashley Prell and Anna Brodjian in a 3-0 victory over Lake Zurich (18-6-1) in a rainy Warren sectional semifinal.
Next up for Barrington is the winner of Tuesday's later game between Libertyville and Warren in a 7 p.m. Friday sectional title matchup.
"We played some very good soccer in the first 20-25 minutes -- should have maybe had one more goal, but the way we opened helped set the tone against a very good Lake Zurich team," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren.
The MSL champions lived up to their No. 1 seed with sharp form, putting the Bears under pressure from the opening whistle and right up to the Prell goal in the 10th minute.
"We were real tentative at the start, and (Barrington) looked to be so confident and organized, and what they did so well was to take advantage of their chances, especially that second one right before the half," said Lake Zurich coach Mike Castronova, whose club has seen its fair share of the Fillies at this time of the year.
The first goal came as a direct result of a remarkable early ball from Brodjian to put Prell through and in on LZ keeper Madison Hart, who had no chance on Prell's perfectly placed attempt.
"It's always important to get that first goal of the game, especially at this time of the year, but Anna's goal right before the break was a lot bigger to me," said Prell, a sophomore whose strike sparked a sustained spell of Barrington control which lasted most of the first period.
While the Bears did their best to absorb pressure, their attack was unable to get on track.
Most of the credit was due to the defense applied to LZ's terrific forward Rebecca Kubin by Jackie Batliner, and the effort of her teammates to help keep Kubin's scoring partner Kristin Brousseau under wraps as well.
Brodjian doubled the advantage with a deft finish of a Michayla Herr helper as the rain picked up at the intermission. But that was the last time the Fillies enjoyed the run of play until 15 minutes into the second half.
"We talked at the half about getting one back, and having that maybe change the course of the game afterward, but we just were never able to put one end," said Castronova.
The action was mostly in the Barrington end as the second half began, and if wasn't Samantha Hartman or Abby Willock at the controls, it was the Bears' all-action play, sharp tackling and ball-winning percentage making the difference in their favor.
With the pressure mounting, a moment of brilliance from Fillies keeper Samantha Schmitz with a fearless point-blank save on Kubin kept the Bears off the scoreboard.
"Sam's save was so big for us, and it helped turned around the momentum in our favor afterward," said Brodjian.
A nicely played cross into the box from Lauren Caffe set things in motion for the last goal, with Herr driving a thunderous left-footer in from 14 yards at 63 minutes.
"I'm proud of the way we went after Barrington in the first part of the second half, but credit them -- they are a very good team which knows how to play, and does a lot of things really well," Castronova said.