Girls soccer: Herr's goal helps Barrington past Downers Grove North
Michayla Herr scored the only goal in an engrossing Class 3A girls soccer state semifinal Friday night in Naperville as Barrington (27-1) denied Downers Grove North 1-0.
The outcome puts the Fillies in the state championship game for the first time since 2006. They will face New Trier (24-2-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium on the campus of North Central College in a rematch of a regular-season contest in which Barrington defeated the reigning state champion Trevians 1-0.
"We had to grind that one out tonight, but the girls deserve to be in the final tomorrow night," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren, who watched his club stand firm a hard-working, feisty Trojans team which will play for third place at 5 p.m. Saturday against Collinsville. "(Downers) didn't create much through the run of play, but they really came at us all night long and played the way you would expect any team to play who has gotten this far."
After stepping out to a sharply choreographed opening quarter-hour display which spanned the entire area of the Trojans (20-3-2), Herr drove her header of a Sophia Spinell serve into the back of the net in the seventh minute.
"That first goal was big, but Downers didn't back down after we scored," said Spinell, who recorded her 26th assist of the season after turning around her defender to find space and time to deliver a marvelous helper to her teammate.
The Trojans regained their composure after conceding the Herr strike. And although Downers Grove North was unable to put anything of quality at Fillies keeper Samantha Schmitz, it consistently put balls in over the top while going into tackles and 50-50s with plenty of force.
"They played the counter really well with diagonal balls and tried to put us under as much as they could, but it was their keeper who kept them in the game tonight," said Barrington's Haley Tausend, who joined back-line mates Jackie Batliner, Kayla Keck and Madi Rosen in staying composed to help Schmitz notch her 20th shutout of the season.
Schmitz's counterpart, Grace Stevenson, was brilliant when called upon during a sequence in which the Fillies could have easily extended their advantage.
An acrobatic save by Stevenson denied Anna Brodjian at 30 minutes when the senior was put through by Batliner. Two minutes later, Stevenson stopped a point-blank attempt by Herr off a Spinell serve to the spot.
Stevenson continued to frustrate the Fillies chances when again she turned around another close-range blast from Brodjian.
Junior Lauren Caffe was a box-to-box warrior from the opening whistle, defending, winning balls and helping run the Fillies' attack from the middle of the park. Meanwhile, Barrington sophomore Ashley Prell provided constant pace and energy to help keep Downers Grove North on edge in its own end.
"We did what we had to do tonight to win, and right now, that's what it is all about," said Stengren.