Girls soccer: Scouting the MSL Soccer Bowl

Girls soccer: Scouting the 29th MSL Soccer Bowl

Elk Grove (10-4-2) at Barrington (13-3-2)When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Barrington Community Stadium

History lesson: Every era can be defined by that one program which enjoyed an aura of invincibility every time out. And recently, in Mid-Suburban League girls soccer, Barrington is that team. The Fillies are in the MSL Soccer Bowl for the 13th time and have won it six consecutive times.

Most of last year's state championship team moved on to college, leaving behind just three holdovers from the starting lineup: four-year star Michayla Herr and all-state candidates Samantha Schmitz and Ashley Prell. All three have taken up key leadership roles for Ryan Stengren's team.

"This team is so young, but they have impressed with their work rate, energy, effort and willingness to train at a high level in order for us to continue the tradition this year - and for the coming seasons," said Herr, who will play at Wisconsin next fall.

Elk Grove is appearing in the league title game for the first time since 2002, when coach Dan Klaus had two super talents, Jen Buczkowski and Erin Walter, help lead the Grens to their third MSL title in as many years.

Several of the current players on the Grens roster were with Klaus in his final season at the helm a year ago, giving Dean Burrier Sanchis cornerstone talents with which to build the program.

"This is a team from the very start that I believed in, and one that I knew had talent - but would need time to find itself and build some confidence in the system and each other as well," said Burrier Sanchis. "These girls play for each other, not themselves. When they went on a winning streak, I think we all began to believe good things could happen for this team."

After playing to a scoreless draw with Hersey, the Grens reeled off six straight league victories, three by shutout, to overtake the field and put themselves in position to advance.

Who to watchElk Grove: Emma Slattery (Sr, D), Zoe Blomquist (Sr, MF, 5g), Rachel Kandefer (Jr, GK, 0.49), Amanda Sitkowski (So, F, 10g), Alexa Joshi (Fr, MF), Kate Talins (So, MF)

Barrington: Samantha Schmitz (Sr, GK), Michayla Herr (Sr, MF, 7g, 9a), Ashley Prell (Jr,F, 15g, 7a), Tina Teik (So, F, 9g), Christine Batliner (Jr, D, 5a), Juliana Moreno (D, So)

They said itDean Burrier (10-4-2 career): "It's been a body of work this season that has helped us get into this game, and the players have been just amazing these last couple of weeks of the season. In order for us to beat Barrington, we'll have to slow their attack, look to contain their transition game and set pieces, and find a chink in the armor of their defense."

Ryan Stengren (202-41-17 career): "This team has found its own identity, as you would expect with so many new faces compared to last year. But they have worked just as hard as the previous team, thanks to the great leadership from our seniors, and the few returning players we have. The first time we played (Elk Grove) we left some goals out on the field, and even though we got the 4-0 result, the feeling was we could have played better and finished our chances. That's what we will look to do tonight."

- Mike Garofola

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