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Preview story: Bartlett seeks to slow Batavia offense

By Dave Owen, 04/10/23, 1:00PM CDT


Batavia graduate and Basketball Hall of Famer Dan Issel played in the highest scoring game in NBA history: a 186-184 Detroit win over Issel’s Denver Nuggets.

Forty years later, Issel’s prep alma mater is displaying a similar high-scoring style to the soccer pitch.

Batavia’s girls squad (3-2-1) has already played a pair of 4-3 games this season, both victories over Naperville North, then ranked no. 12 on the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, on March 23 and again Saturday over Neuqua Valley.

The Lady Bulldogs look to continue their scoring frenzy at 6:30 tonight when they travel to face host Bartlett (1-3-1) in a nonconference match.

Batavia’s 12 goals in four games this season have been impressive, but Saturday’s win snapped a scoring cold streak. In losses to third-ranked Plainfield North and Wheaton North, the team netted one goal in the combined 160 minutes.

A 10-day layoff between games came between the loss to powerful Plainfield North, ranked third in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, and a 2-1 setback at Wheaton North on April 6.

“Pre-pandemic we scheduled games throughout the spring break week,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “It was always challenging to find games that week for various reasons, but it could be done.

“Since then, it has been difficult to find games. So, the approach had to be altered. We play two games at the beginning of the break and then give the players the rest of the time off knowing we would not play until the Thursday we came back.

“The impact of playing games during spring break would be continuing to build on the work done the three weeks prior instead of restarting after break. The benefit I guess now is they get a mental/physical break prior to getting into the heart of the season. We played (Wheaton North), and being off for 10 days I was impressed how well we played.”

Saturday was much better for Batavia. An attack led by Brooke Carlson’s two goals and an assist, and single goals by Natalie Warner and Avery Solomon, whose game-winner came with just 15 seconds left) put the Bulldogs dramatically back on the high-scoring and victorious track.

Bartlett had its own bounce back Saturday, defeating Elgin 1-0 to improve to 1-0-1 in Upstate Eight Conference play.

The Hawks' defense has kept foes under wraps. Except for a 5-0 loss to Geneva on April 3, Bartlett has allowed just one other regulation goal all season. That run includes shutouts of Elgin and Streamwood (a 0-0 tie), and a regulation scoreless draw with Sycamore that the Hawks lost on PKs in the Rose Augsburg-Drach Invitational.

Goalkeeper Megan Kron and the starting defender quartet of Brooke Baumann, Breanna Baumann, Macy Medendorp and Ariss Kroeger were among the catalysts for the season-opening Streamwood 0-0 draw.

The March portion of Batavia’s slate included the win over perennial power and then 12th-ranked Naperville North, in which Kailey Hansen had two goals and an assist.

“The leadership of Lily Figueras, Avery Solomon, Kailey Hansen and Riley DiBiase has been great to get our season started,” Gianfrancesco said. “They have done a wonderful job of working with new players at the varsity level that will play dividends later in the season.

“Game to game we look to build relationships on the field, improve on managing games, defend as a unit, and win some games to assist with seeding for playoffs.”

Monday provides the latest challenge to that mission.

“Bartlett is always a challenging opponent because of their speed, physicality and mental toughness,” Gianfrancesco said. “They keep playing no matter the score and are dangerous for the entire 80 minutes.

“Keys to the game are just to get into a flow as a group, with playing three games in five days. We can learn a lot about ourselves during these games that we can use to improve over the next month.”