Girls soccer: Barrington blanks St. Charles North
On a dramatic night for the home team, Barrington refused to give in to top-ranked St. Charles North.
The Fillies ended the North Stars' undefeated season and advanced into the Class 3A girls soccer final four with a 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Barrington Community Stadium.
The Fillies (19-3-2) will face Naperville North (20-3-4) at 5 p.m. Friday in a state semifinal at North Central College in Naperville.
"We came in as the underdog against the best team in the state, so our chances didn't look very good tonight," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren. "But this team, with so many young players, many of whom have never been in a game this big, played their hearts out for 80 minutes to beat a great team and help us realize the dream of getting back to the state tournament."
The reigning state champions will be making their eighth state apperance in program history after losing nearly all of last year's starting lineup to graduation. One key expection that rule is goalie Samantha Schmitz, a key in last spring's title game shootout victory against New Trier.
"St. Charles North had so much talent and so much firepower," said Schmitz, who came up with a point-blank stop on St. Charles North's Sarah Andrey in the second half. "We had to weather the storm in that first 15 minutes when they really came at us. But once we did, the game began to come to us, and we played so much better afterward."
With at least five brilliant attacking players in a starting lineup which had generated almost 100 goals this season, the North Stars (21-1-1) were recently anointed the No. 1 team in the nation by TopDrawer Soccer.com.
And in the first quarter-hour on Tuesday, it seemed the North Stars were ready to inflict plenty of damage on the Fillies' young lineup in pursuit of the program's first final four since 2012.
"We were ready for this night, and prepared for whatever Barrington had planned tactically for us," said St. Charles North coach Brian Harks. "And our start tonight was about as good as it good gets -- except without putting one into the back of the net."
One key move by Stengren and his staff was to have sophomore Ellie McAuley man mark Iowa-bound Hailey Rydberg (22 goals) from the opening whistle. That was a seeming mismatch in favor of St. Charles North, owing to the all-state Stars forward's extraordinary size and talent.
"We saw North play a few times, so we knew we had to slow down, and try to frustrate Rydberg who, if allowed to, would cause us so much trouble," said Stengren. "Ellie took a beating out there tonight, but she stayed with her the entire night, and kept her from getting good looks on frame, and that may have been the biggest reason for our success."
So were the two goals the Fillies scored.
The first came six minutes from the intermission, when freshman Jen Devona got just enough of the ball to send it off keeper Sara Maleski and over the end line.
"You never want to give up the first goal in a game this important, but there wasn't any panic from the players because we knew if we stayed at it, we could get that goal back, then maybe another one or two," said Harks.
The Fillies endured another test from their opponents, with Sami Rydberg, C.C. Wahlberg and Claudia Najera at the heart of the Stars' attack. But when Schmitz turned away the close-range blast from Andrey in the 56th minute, it appeared to inspire the Fillies.
Maleski answered the call with a wonderful save on Barrington's Tina Teik after Michayla Herr and Ashley Prell countered. But the Stars keeper could do nothing to stop junior Ashley Rocco, who went into a crowd to redirect Madi Rosen's inward swinging corner.
"Everyone was playing for each other for the entire game, especially late in the game when (St. Charles North) was really coming at us, and our backline had to step up to play their best soccer," said Herr, who along with Schmitz are the lone seniors back from last year's team.
C.C. Wahlberg went wide twice, Rydberg hit the post, and Chloe Netzel looked to break free inside the box until sophomore Juliana Moreno's tackle ended one last chance for the Stars to score.
"We've kind of been in the background this season to St. Charles North, New Trier, Naperville North, and maybe because we have so many first-year players," said Stengren. "But tonight, the girls showed they could play with the absolute best, and I could not be more proud of all of them."