Shorthanded Barrington falls in playoffsLake Zurich 10/19/11
Cary-Grove High School varsity soccer player, Mike Loke (5), gets ready to pass the ball during the IHSA regional semifinals against Barrington High School, at Lake Zurich High School, on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. | Ruthie Hauge ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 26, 2011 9:52PM
The IHSA Class 3A playoff opener against Fox Valley champion Cary-Grove would have been challenging enough for a full-strength Barrington soccer team.
The fact the Broncos entered the contest without the services of seven injured players made the task near-impossible.
The Trojans (17-2) scored twice in the first half and once in the second, defeating Barrington 3-0 in a Lake Zurich Regional semifinal on Oct. 19.
“It sounds a little like sour grapes, but we had a rash of injuries,” said Barrington head coach Scott Steib. “We had seven kids hurt the last days of the season — four of them were season-ending. It made things really tough. It sounds like I’m making excuses. But if you’re not healthy, your team is not at full strength.”
Steib felt his team had enough depth to cover for the missing players, but the group he put on the field for the final contest may have needed a little more time to jell.
“I really believed that even with the injuries, we had guys who could step in and do the job,” Steib said. “They tried. But it’s a rhythm thing. It’s not the overall ability of the kids out there, it just would have been better if we didn’t have to play Cary-Grove (right away), and we had some time to work some things out.”
The Broncos (11-9-3) were at a disadvantage because they were in a pre-determined regional with four quality teams. Lake Zurich and McHenry played in the other semifinal.
Most other suburban brackets in the state tournament consisted of 16 to 18-team sectionals, where the highest seeds were matched against a significantly lower seed in the regional semifinal. However, Barrington was grouped with the Rockford schools, and the IHSA pre-determines the regional pairings to avoid lengthy travel.
Among the key players missing for Barrington were defenders Dylan Nelson and Brian Sheetz, and midfielder Connor Hennelly — all with stress fractures. Midfielder Jack Hoots tore a meniscus, which may require surgery; backup goalkeeper Jacob Dreiling was hurt; and the versatile Colter Williams had just returned to the lineup after missing 10 days with a thigh contusion.
On a rainy and windy night, undermanned Barrington won the coin toss and chose to have the wind at its back in the second half. Steib said the decision was based on the fact that many postseason contests include a feeling-out period, when both teams hang back and wait for the game to develop.
Steib hoped his team could keep the score at 0-0 for as long as possible, perhaps through halftime, and then use the wind to its advantage in the second half. The plan backfired when Cary-Grove found the goal twice in the first half, taking a 2-0 advantage into the locker room.
Late in the first half, Barrington had its best chance of the game, but leading scorer Reid Strain, a senior, was unable to convert on a breakaway.
After the break, the Broncos pushed forward, looking to get back into it. But Cary-Grove essentially killed them off with its third goal midway through the half.
Barrington will lose 12 seniors from the current squad, including Strain (14 goals this season), midfielders Grant McAndrew and Bryan Adams, goalkeeper Max Redpath, and defenders Sheets, Brett Qualiardi and John Gallagher.
Next year’s team likely will be built around central midfielders Craig Zahour and Ethan Claes, who will be seniors in 2012.
The program appears to be blessed with some young talent. The Barrington JV squad finished 18-2, the freshman Red was 15-1-1 and the freshman White went 12-1-5. The sophomores finished 5-7-4.
Six Broncos earned all-MSL honors: Zahour, Strain, Gallagher, Adams, Claes and Williams.