MT. PROSPECT -- One of the Mid-Suburban League's regular-season heavyweight clashes ended with reigning champion Barrington, ranked second in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, taking down host Prospect at George Gattis Memorial Stadium with a dominant second half performance on a chilly, and windy early April night.
Brooke Brown. Piper Lucier and Sarah Sarnowski were all on target during an 11-minute offensive onslaught that saw the Fillies play exhilarating futbol on their way to a 4-0 victory to earn three points in their first match after a spring break pause.
"We showed a little rust in the first half, did a lot of good things, but were not as dynamic, and sharp in the final third," said Fillies manager Ryan Stengren, whose club will host Buffalo Grove on Saturday afternoon. “We really came alive in the second half to play some good soccer from front-to-back against a very good opponent tonight."
"We looked a little out of sync for most of the first half," added Brown, a 2022 Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater. She was part of a Fillies front seven that came alive after the break to dominate play and the statistical report. "Our intensity, effort and purpose were so much better in the second half."
Prospect couldn't put two halves together,
"We thought we held our own pretty well in the first half, limiting quality chances, while being strong along the back and just absorbing their pressure," began Prospect manager Tom Froats, whose club is now 2-1-2 overall, and 1-1-1 in league play.
"We had that great chance right at the start of the second half. Their keeper made a fine stop, and after that things began to tilt in favor of Barrington, especially after their first goal.
"Credit Barrington on their win. Despite the loss, I thought our overall effort was first rate, and I was really proud of how hard the girls played, (never) with their heads hanging despite the fact we were chasing goals until the very end."
Prospect, an honorable mention team in the Top 25, fell for the first time this season. The Knights (3-1-2, 1-1-1) rebounded with a 2-1 nonconference win at Class AA Crystal Lake Central on Thursday and get a break before returning to action against MSL East Division foe Wheeling on April 12.
As expected, the home side and MSL East Division champions of a year ago, came out with a strong defensive posture. The senior trio of Kayley and 2022 East Division Co-Player of the Year Natalie Bouzas, and Mia D'onofrio gave a superb and stealthy spine to the Knights formation.
"Kayley and Natalie lead the way in our own end, but teammates like Abby Davis, Kate (Woodland), Julia (Valentini), Maggie Rosenberg and others are committed to playing smart, strong defensive soccer. … Our overall effort was just amazing," said free kick specialist D'onofrio, who remained upbeat despite the loss.
D'onofrio and Barrington senior Kate Lubinsky shared the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor.
Stengren was thrilled with the first 8-10 minutes of the match but not so much with a sluggish next half hour when the visitors created little through the run of play and nearly nothing of quality on frame.
"We looked sharp at the start, but we fell into being way too predictable with the way we attacked and moved the ball around," said Stengren. “But we came out of it really well after the break.”
Lucier, a 2022 Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater, went wide in the 5th minute after Brown flicked the ball nicely to her teammate after running onto a long ball from out of the back from newcomer Roos VanRoekel, who is part of a revamped Fillies backline.
VanRoekel went over the bar with another long free kick moments later, as did Brown with a subsequent attempt.
As the game began to settle in, the home side saw its first opportunity come and go when Rosenberg went wide with her attempt at 14 minutes.
While Barrington began to build its eventual 59.1 percent possession and 61 percent passes completed (321 passes, 197 completed) rates on the night, Prospect showed a willingness to press and intercept inside its half to slow the attack of their guests.
"I though in the first half, we did a great job in winning balls, especially in the midfield. It’s something we are very good at," said D'onofrio.
Barrington felt it wasn’t tough enough on its hosts before the break.
"We just didn't move the ball quickly enough from side-to-side," said Lubinsky, who has become the Fillies most versatile player. “It made it much too easy for them to defend against us.”
Lubinsky, a Chicagoland Soccer All-State Watch List player, enjoyed a breakout season a year ago, bagging 13 goals and adding 10 helpers. In 2021, she came off the bench while her older sister Lara played a key role with eight goals, and nine assists.
"Kate is so valuable to our team and program,” said Stengren. “She can, and has, played all over the place for us. She has done so much at such a high level. We are so fortunate to have her with us."
"I prefer playing up-top, and on the right side. Stengren knows he can pop me in wherever I am needed at any time, just as I did tonight," added Lubinsky, who is leaning toward attending Purdue University next fall.
Lubinsky and Knights forward Jillian Sawadski play on the same club team at FC United.
It was Sawadski who put teammate Lauren Harrell in position for a chance, but her strike from 25 yards was saved easily by Fillies keeper Megan Holland in the 22nd minute.
Brown and Lubinsky answered with nice combination play which led to the third-of-eight corners on the night by the visitors. That attempt ended when Lucier headed over the bar.
Kayley Bouzas left a pair of Fillies players behind with a bit of trickery with the ball before playing through to Courtney Bradbury. But Holland came strong off her line to dash the chance near the end of the first half.
After a scoreless 40 minutes, Barrington made adjustments.
"We talked at the half about playing quicker, moving the ball side-to-side and attacking with more speed, and I think we did just that," said Brown.
"Megan (Holland) came through with a big save at the start of the second half when we basically played the ball right onto the foot of no. 2 (Sawadski),” said Stengren. “But after we weathered that early storm, it was top players playing at a high level."
Holland stormed off her line to cut the angle on the advancing Sawadski, who attacked up the right side. With a late reach with her right arm, the Fillies sophomore pushed the ball around and off of the back post. From there, an ever-alert Meredith McGreevy cleared the ball out of the area.
Holland did well as she collected back-to-back searing free kicks off the foot of D'onofrio. After this surge from the home side subsided, it became one-way traffic going Barrington’s direction.
A Lubinsky-Sarnowski counter ended with VanRoekel heading wide at 49 minutes. Moment’s later, VonRoekel’s long-range free kick set up the opener.
Lucier pried open the right side with speed, purpose and some crafty technique before playing across to Brown, who after three, close touches finished in the far inside netting in the 52nd minute.
"After a kind of nervous beginning to the second half, that first goal really seemed to get us going. The first goal always does," said Brown, who last year bagged 16 goals.
Now brimming with confidence, the Fillies were back at it again. Lucier set up a Sarnowski one-timer that was saved by Prospect keeper Lily Barich. It began a stretch where the visitors attacking intentions became quite clear.
"That first goal really opened things up for us. Our combination play, movement off the ball, and playing quick and fast was nice to see," Stengren said.
Prospect found it difficult to defend against the Fillies' runs, cutting edge-attacks which were now brimming with confidence. Midfielders Kaitlin Taylor, Maddy Ziebarth and Brown now found it easier to free up their front line of Lubinsky, Lucier and Sarnowski, and the advantage soon became greater for the visitors.
Lubinsky supplied a brilliant ball to Lucier that gave the sophomore an easy finish to her close-range effort under Barich in the 59th minute.
"My teammates did all the work, getting the ball to me on our second goal. (Sarnowski) gave me a great ball. All I needed to try to do was get it to Piper, who did the rest," said a humble Lubinsky.
Sarnowski made it 3-0 moments later after a burst through the Knights backline allowed the junior to drive her effort off of Barich, who made a valiant initial save, only to see the rebound spill freely to Sarnowski, who followed with a nice touch into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, a long-ball send into the six-yard box was unfortunately headed into the net by a Knights player.
With a four-goal advantage, Stengren began to bring on his bench. Senior keeper Avery Trapp came on and pulled down another dangerous free kick from D'onofrio and a well-struck cross from Bradbury.
Prospect exited the match unbowed.
"It was a 100 percent effort from everyone tonight … right up until the very end,” said D’onofrio, who will attend the nursing program at the University of South Carolina.”If we continue to work hard, we're all looking forward to getting back into the MSL Soccer Cup, and hopefully face a great team like Barrington again."
With the victory, Barrington improved to 4-0-1, 2-0-1.
"It was obviously a good win, but we all know there's a lot of work ahead of us to get to the level we all want to be at," began Brown.
Lubinsky added: "If we continue to put in the effort in training, there's no reason why we cannot compete with the best teams. We need to get more training sessions, and games under us, because we're not close to being where we should, and could be.
"While it's true we have a lot of returning players from a year ago, we also have some players who are (now) taking on larger roles with the varsity,
"We lost everyone from our backline except Ellie (Sanchez, a returning Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater), so Meredith McGreevy, Roos (VanRoekel) and now Annie Tarpey, filling in for our injured freshman Jazzy Fertig, are learning to play together as a unit and doing really well so far.
"We also lost our all-state midfielder (2022 graduate) Nicole Gwiasda, but Maddy Ziebarth is doing a great job at that spot for us. We are all in a period of adjustment here at the start of the season."
"We saw a lot of good things from both sides of the ball, but we're still a work in progress,” he said. “We obviously have to continue to clean some things up, silly things which are fixable, but nonetheless things we have to be better at.
"We scored some nice goals, and our overall play in the second half was so much better against a team that made us work for what we eventually earned."
G- Megan Holland
D- Ellie Sanchez
D- Roos VanRoekel
D- Meredith McGreevy
D- Annie Tarpey
M- Kaitlin Taylor
M- Brooke Brown
M- Maddy Ziebarth
F- Sarah Sarnowski
F- Piper Lucier
F- Kate Lubinsky
G- Lily Barich
D- Paige Hall
D- Natalie Bouzas
D- Julia Valentini
D- Kate Woodland
M- Mia D'onofrio
M- Maggie Rosenberg
M- Kayley Bouzas
M- Abby Davis
F- Jillian Sawadski
F- Lauren Harrell
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match:
Mia D'onofrio, sr., MF, Prospect; Kate Lubinsky, sr., F, Barrington
Referee: John Anderson
Barrington: Brown (Lucier), 52'
Barrington: Lucier (Lubinsky, Taylor), 59'
Barrington: Sarnowski (unassisted), 62'
Barrington: own-goal, 64'