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Barrington holds off St. Charles North for NI title

By Matt LeCren, 04/29/23, 3:45PM CDT


Fillies prevail 1-0 on Van Roekel's 1st half goal

NAPERVILLE – Few public address announcers have been able to pronounce Roos VanRoekel’s first name correctly.

That’s understandable considering the native of the Netherlands pronounces it “Rose.”

Things proved rosy for Barrington on Saturday, thanks in part to the play of VanRoekel. The junior defender played lockdown defense and also scored the only goal of the game as the Fillies edged St. Charles North 1-0 to win the championship match of the Naperville Invitational at Naperville Central’s Memorial Stadium.

VanRoekel’s goal, her fourth of the season, came off a corner kick from senior Brooke Brown. The serve deflected off the midsection of the defender and into the net with 3:15 left in the first half.

“It was a great serve from Brooke, and I’m really glad she got it to the second post,” VanRoekel said. “And I’m just grateful that it hit me, and we scored.”

Barrington senior co-captain Ellie Sanchez, who plays on the backline with VanRoekel, Annie Tarpey and Meredith McGreevy, was impressed with VanRoekel’s play.

“Roos, coming here from the Netherlands, we got so lucky with her,” Sanchez said. “We have been so blessed.

“She’s been perfect for our backline in these games, especially with top competition. Credit (St. Charles North), they made us so much better today.”

Barrington coach Ryan Stengren was asked jokingly about his overseas recruiting budget.

“We saw her at the World Cup,” he quipped. “No, I didn’t know who she was.

“One day before school started, I get a phone call. I got her in for an individual training and then I knew.

“Then I had to get her into a club to get her around people in soccer, and the girls really took her in. It was probably overwhelming for somebody to come here a couple days before school and try to get familiarized with everything, but our culture here did an awesome job of taking her in. You’d think she’s been here for four years.”

VanRoekel already feels at home.

“It’s been good,” she said. “It’s been a warm welcome in Barrington.

“The people are welcoming, all so positive. You’re being made a part of a team, and you really feel that.”

Both the third-ranked Fillies (13-0-2) and 12th-ranked North Stars (11-3-1) were feeling tired due to grueling schedules and the extremely tight turnaround from Friday night’s semifinals.

The 9 a.m. start did nobody any favors. The Fillies won their fourth game in 63 hours; the North Stars were playing their third game in 39 hours.

“We have a couple younger players that were here last year and playing in this game, so we kind of knew coming in that our legs were going to be heavy, and we knew for (St. Charles North) the same thing,” Sanchez said. “We just really focused on pushing through, playing for each other and just getting the job done.

“It was going to be a battle out there. That’s a really good team in St. Charles North. They play really good soccer, so we knew it was going to be a battle. I’m just really proud of everybody on the field to push through it and play together today.”

So was Stengren, whose team showed much better quality than they did during Friday’s come-from-behind shootout victory over Naperville North.

“I was so happy about that,” he said. “It probably wasn’t one of our better performances yesterday, but today was awesome. They looked so much more compact and organized.

“You could tell they were talking to each other. If we can continue to play like that going forward, it will bode very well for us.”

The linchpin of Saturday’s win was the defense, which didn’t crack under pressure against the North Stars, who held a 9-4 shot advantage and controlled the possession in the second half, during which Barrington was held without a shot attempt.

“Our whole backline today really stepped up,” Sanchez said. “We have Hannah Blue coming off the bench rotating in with Annie Tarpey, our forward Sarah Sarnowski dropping to the left back.

“Everybody really stepped up today, and our backline was able to get it done.”

It was by no means easy. Sophomore goalkeeper Megan Holland made two saves to record Barrington’s ninth shutout, but her best play came when she dashed off her line and dove on a beautiful lead pass from Chloe Kirsten to Sophie Kirsten with 19:33 to go in the second half.

Sophie Kirsten collided with Holland on the play and had to leave the game with a knee issue, but later returned.

“She took a pretty good hit with the collision,” St. Charles North assistant coach Eric Willson said. “It was a great ball from her sister that put her in, and we almost got a goal off of that play.

“But that’s the type of stuff you pinpoint -- those two sisters. Sophie gets hurt, comes back into the game and shows a ton of toughness.

“Chloe is dealing with some injuries herself and gets banged up but pops right up and continues to make runs forward. Those two were awesome today along with the rest of their teammates.”

Willson, who also serves as the head coach of the boys team at St. Charles North, skippered the North Stars on Saturday in the absence of head coach Brian Harks, who attended his daughter’s confirmation.

Even though the North Stars were shut out for just the second time this season, Willson was upbeat about his team’s performance and effort.

“I think our team top to bottom was just continuing to push the pace and that was something that you’ve got to be happy about,” he said. “I think if we learn anything from this, it’s set plays can be a difference-maker in big games like this, and today that was the difference.”

While the Fillies took home the championship trophy outright for the second time and third overall in its’ prestigious 24-year history, both teams proved their mettle under trying circumstances.

“Third game in three days, I don’t care if you’re 17 years old -- that’s a difficult task for anyone,” Willson said. “And then to add to the fact that it’s against three quality opponents, it’s a grind.

“At this point, I think the two programs know each other pretty well. We understand that they’re really good in the air, they’re incredibly organized, they’re really well-coached.

“I was just really proud of how hard our girls worked throughout. I thought we had a phenomenal second half, and we just couldn’t find the back of the net at the end of the day.”

Though the title eluded them, the North Stars did net an impressive honor -- senior midfielder Bella Najera was named the tournament MVP.

Barrington (13-0-2) continues its incredible run this season.

“This is a character builder, because it doesn’t have to be pretty at this time of year,” Stengren said. “We played four games in four days yet we found a way to get results.

“It’s about our mental ability to execute when we know we were physically fatigued. We found a way to do it. That’s what I’ll take away from it.”

VanRoekel earned a lifetime memory with her goal and the win.

“It feels good,” she said. “It’s just great to help the team out, especially in a big game like this.

“I’m here to do my part, and I just do it for the team.”

Starting lineups

GK: Megan Holland
D: Roos VanRoekel
D: Ellie Sanchez
D: Annie Tarpey
D: Meredith McGreevy
M: Maddie Ziebarth
M: Madeline Lewis
M: Brooke Brown
M: Lucy Stanton
F: Piper Lucier
F: Sarah Sarnowski
St. Charles North
GK: Kara Claussner
D: Abby Sims
D: Chloe Kirsten
D: Lauren Balster
D: Abby Vichich
M: Kayla Floyd
M: Juliana Park
M: Bella Najera
F: Rian Spaulding
F: Sophie Kirsten
F: Laney Stark
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Roos VanRoekel, jr., D, Barrington

Scoring summary

First half
Barrington: Roos VanRoekel (Brooke Brown)          3:15 remaining

Second half
No scoring