Girls soccer: Defending champ Barrington blanks St. Charles North in super
All-state defender Madi Rosen delivered a brilliant second half wonder goal to inflict yet another supersectional defeat on St. Charles North as Barrington's girls soccer team notched its third consecutive appearance to the Class 3A state tournament.
Ellie McAuley struck just after the opening whistle, Rosen doubled the advantage, and the Fillies (21-1-1) defended with all their might to earn a hard-fought 2-0 victory Tuesday night before a big home crowd at Barrington Community Stadium.
The Fillies will play New Trier Friday at 7 p.m. at North Central College in Naperville in a state semifinal match that will be a rematch of the 2018 state final.
"We've been training so long for a chance to get back into this game again, knowing if we could win here tonight at home we would be going back to state with an opportunity to win a third straight championship," began Rosen, after the all-state defender and her teammates posed with the big trophy before their fans.
"It's an amazing to think we beat a great team like St. Charles North once again and for the seniors who are four-year players, it's just really something else."
This contest featured the two teams that have been 1-2 in the state polls from the very beginning, both entering with near spotless records and each rated among the top five teams in the country by the national website TopDrawerSoccer.com.
"Brian (Harks, St. Charles North coach) has, what I felt all along, is the best collection of attacking players around beginning with Cece Wahlberg, Claudia Najera, Sami Rydberg, and Sarah Andrey so we knew we would have our hands full, and in order for us to advance, we had to keep a careful eye on each of them, while defending as well as we could as a team," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren.
Knowing the North Stars (19-2-1) were capable of striking at any moment, the McAuley opener at just two minutes forced Harks to ask his club to chase the game early on.
"An early goal always sets you back a little, but we have so much experience, and players who have been through everything, I knew we would be OK. It was just a matter of playing with composure and getting back to what we do best," said the North Stars' head coach.
Rydberg nearly equalized when she found the post in the 6th minute, but the Fillies came back to rattle the post twice.
Rosen collected a Tina Teik helper and unloaded a left-footed cracker off the back post, then it was Christina Batliner sending Rebecca Shomaker through for the same result in the 13th minute.
"It was so important for us to come out quick and sharp, and we did that with Ellie's goal and we created two really good chances," said Batliner, who was magnificent on the other side of Rosen as the Fillies' right outside back.
The North Stars intentions were clear after they were unable to get back even before the intermission and the extra energy and urgency they brought after the break would signal a 40-minute rough ride the Fillies would have to manage in order to advance.
"Our back line stayed organized, even when (North) began to send more numbers, and we didn't play around with the ball when it got through, we just sent it back the other way, which I felt began to frustrate them, especially after Madi's goal," opined Stengren.
Junior Leah Eisenbarth, in the first big game of her career, made a strong save on a 30-yard blast from Wahlberg at 42 minutes.
In the 57th minute, Rosen took advantage of time and space to hit a 35-yard guided missile that exploded into the far right corner to make it 2-0.
"Normally when I have the ball and coming across like that I always look to cross the ball, but when I saw all of my teammates marked I thought, 'oh well, let's have a go," said Rosen, who is a natural left-footer, but scored with a powerful right-footed attempt.
Wahlberg went end line and forced Eisenbarth to turn away her angled shot, and the North Stars created three corners all of which the Fillies defended before a Grace Barresi shot was saved at the near post to end SCN's chances for good.
"It's tough getting to this game two straight years and leaving without advancing to state, but it doesn't take anything away from a team that has just an incredible group of young women, who were a joy to coach and watch play. I am so proud of all of them, and couldn't ask for anything else from them this season, and tonight," said Harks.
Stengren was just as proud of his club long after the stadium began to clear.
"Just an incredible night of soccer from an incredible group of girls who fought and battled to beat a great team," he said.
"But, it's not over and tomorrow we'll begin for Friday, and yet another rematch with New Trier who, like St. Charles North, will be after us after beating twice in a row for the state title."