Girls soccer: Scouting the Class 3A tournament
Girls soccer: Scouting the Class 3A state tournament
When: Friday and Saturday (7 p.m. final)
Where: North Central College, Naperville
Background: Barrington was highly ranked in the preseason, then settled in at No. 2 for a bit after a 1-0 loss to Naperville North in the North Shore Invite finale.
But two weeks later, the Fillies defeated state power New Trier, and a day later Naperville North, to win the prestigious Naperville Invite. And since then, Barrington coach Ryan Stengren's club has been the top-rated 3A team in the state.
"This is a very special group of players, many of whom have been together a long time and a lot of respect for each other, our opponents, and the game of soccer," said Stengren. "That's why I am so proud of each and every player on our roster, and I feel fortunate to be a part of their success these past few years, and especially this year."
Friday's semifinalsNew Trier (23-2-1) vs. Collinsville (19-6-1), 5 p.m
New Trier arrives here with a long resume of state trophies, none more impressive than its three consecutive 3A titles. A fourth straight didn't seem likely at first, as the Trevians lost several talented veterans from its 2016 team. But coach Jim Burnside has built a powerhouse club quite capable of lifting yet another trophy.
Traditionally, the Trevians have featured a big, strong backline, and this year is no different. New Trier also has a first-class tactical plan of pressing schemes, along with fast transition and the ability to create and score on dead-ball and set piece plays.
Freshman Emma Weaver (12g) is a wonderful young talent up front, while teammates Nicole Kaspi (16g) and Hannah Arment give the Trevs a dangerous look when they play three across the front.
Last season, the Trevians defeated Collinsville 4-0 in the final, so as luck would have it for the Kahoks already have some build-in motivation in advance of this semifinal.
Collinsville defeated rival Normal Community for a fifth straight time in the sectional to advance into the supersectional contest, where second-half goals led to a 2-0 victory over Lincoln-Way West as the Kahoks netted a third consecutive state tournament appearance.
Twenty-goal scorers Emily Holten and Alynnah Oleary pace the Kahoks, who were 14-1-1 against schools from Illinois.
Barrington (26-1-0) vs. Downers Grove North (20-2-2), 7 p.m.The Fillies' roster has been tested by a high-profile tournament schedule over the past four seasons.
With its 4-4-2 formation, Stengren relies on an all-state backline led by two-time all-state senior Jackie Batliner, two-time all-MSL center-backs Kayla Keck and Haley Tausend and a left-outside freshman, Madi Rosen.
This unit, along with superb keeper Samantha Schmitz, has recorded 22 shutouts, while conceding just 6 goal all year.
The midfield is led by another two-time all-stater, Sophia Spinell, whose 17 goals and 25 assists lead the way. Top-notch crossing ability and corner serves stand out among her abilities.
Michayla Herr is the defensive specialist who many times is asked to defend the opponent's top attacking player, while Sydney Bowling and Lauren Caffe each have enjoyed banner years in their first full-time role with the big club.
The style of play from forwards Anna Brodjian and Ashley Prell is a big plus, as both are adept at passing, dribbling, shooting and impressive finishing to the tune of 32 combined goals.
Seniors Ellie Stodola and Maesyn Poidomani provide versatility, pace and energy when brought on by Stengren, while youngsters Tina Teik, Juliana Moreno and Christine Batliner have shown they are next in line for 2018.
Downers Grove North has flown under the radar, playing in the shadows of state powers Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Lyons. Brian Papa, who collected over 360 career victories during three previous stops before taking over the Trojans this spring, has made his first year here a memorable one after guiding North to its first-ever state tournament appearance.
Since suffering their second loss of the season back on May 2 to Lyons (3-2) the Trojans have gone 9-0-0, including a 2-1 victory over Lyons in the sectional final, before defeating Naperville North (1-0) in shootout.
Papa is a big fan of junior Abby Swanson, and why not?
The Trojans midfielder runs the attack with pace, industry and a high work rate and leads her club in scoring with 13 goals and 18 helpers.
"We don't know much about Downers Grove North, but this much we know, in order to get here, they had to go through Naperville North, so that says a lot about them," said Stengren. "We feel confident, and ready to go, but we expect a lot coming from North in this game, and that's our only focus right now."