NAPERVILLE – Ninety seconds.
That was all it took for Barrington to score the first goal against Libertyville in Friday’s Class 3A semifinals at North Central College.
Kate Lubinsky sent a brilliant diagonal pass from the right wing to the left side of the box, where an open Brooke Brown was waiting.
Brown fired a hard shot which Libertyville goalkeeper Kate Hopma made a great diving save on. But Piper Lucier was there to bury the rebound to give the favored Fillies the early lead.
“Brooke had a great shot,” Lucier said. “Keeper had a great save.
“I think I was just getting on the end of it. I think it was just great positioning all-around. It was a good finish.”
It was a fast start for Barrington, which turned in a bunch of fantastic finishes late in a 5-0 victory that gave the Fillies (23-0-2) a spot in their fifth state championship match in the last six seasons. They will play O’Fallon (20-3-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in a quest to capture their third state title.
“Our mentality from the start was really good, so I was really pleased with the way we prepared for the game this week and the way we executed,” Barrington coach Ryan Stengren said. “We have some offensive talent here, and you’re seeing it the last two games. I’m very, very pleased with it.”
The Fillies have pumped in 10 goals in their last two outings, and in this game their defense was just as impressive, allowing only five shots. Barrington goalkeeper Megan Holland was called upon to make only two saves.
Hopma, though, was much busier at the other ends. She had her hands full trying to fend off the Fillies, and she did well for the first hour and finished with seven saves.
But the tone of the game had been set in the early going.
“We got on the lead in the first minute and a half and obviously, I think that completely changed the momentum, and it gave us a chance to relax,” Brown said. “Obviously, it was still nerve-wracking, because we didn’t end up scoring for the rest of the half, and Libertyville is obviously a very talented team.
“But I think just having the goal under our belt was super beneficial for our team. We were able to relax a little bit more.”
When players like the Cornell-bound Brown are able to relax, it usually means tense times for opposing defenses. That was true in this game, but the Wildcats (17-3-2) were able to keep the deficit at a single goal until the 65th minute.
“Giving up a goal in the first minute and a half is a problem, right?” Libertyville coach Daniel DePaz said. “They got off to a quick start.
“Overall, I was pretty happy with how our team responded. We stayed in that game for quite some time.”
But the effort to score the equalizer delivered several big blows to Libertyville in the first half. The biggest came when senior midfielder Prudence Babat, a co-captain, and junior defender Maddy Kopala banged heads in a nasty collision at the 12:16 mark and left the game bleeding.
They were among four starters lost to injury in the first half. Though all four returned in the second half, it took a big toll.
“We had four players go down in the first half,” DePaz said. “That’s a tough mental thing to handle.
“We had to change formations. We had players playing in different positions. For the most part, I think we adjusted pretty well. I think the girls showed that resilience throughout the playoffs, and you could see that in this game as well.”
The return of Babat and Kopala was remarkable considering their injuries, but even their return wasn’t enough to overcome the Fillies.
“They got gashed pretty bad, so my assumption is they are going to go get stitches tonight,” DePaz said. “The other ones that went down, it was a little bit of the heat.
“They were able to recover and get back in but obviously they’re not 100 percent. I’m very happy with how fought, but we got tired.”
That translated into a lack of offense. The Wildcats mustered only one shot in the second half, a 35-yard shot off the foot of freshman Shea Krakowski which was stopped easily by Holland with 17:30 to go.
After that, the floodgates opened. Barrington scored on four-consecutive shots. They attacked in waves as if they had someplace to be, which in the case of Brown and her fellow seniors was true – they headed back to school after the game to attend the tail end of their graduation ceremony.
Brown tallied the second and third goals of the game. The first came on a rebound at the 15:55 mark after Hopma stopped a breakaway by Sarah Sarnowski, and the second was a six-yard shot into the upper-right corner of the net after a cross was deflected by a defender with 13:20 to go.
As pretty as Brown’s goals were, Sarnowski tallied an even better one when she ran under a 45-yard free kick from Roos VanRoekel and headed it inside the left post with 6:25 remaining. Freshman reserve Skye Lundy came off the bench to bag the final goal at the 2:34 mark off an assist from Lucy Stanton.
“I think it was nice to see some of our players that were able to come off the bench, and they did not drop down a level,” said Brown, who along with the other seniors planned to walk across the stage in her uniform to receive her diploma. “I’m super proud of Skye for stepping up, and I’m really proud of everybody.”
There was plenty of credit to go around. VanRoekel and Ellie Sanchez anchored a dominant defensive effort, while Lucier praised midfielder Maddie Ziebarth.
“I think she really capitalized in the midfield today, just winning everything for us in the air,” Lucier said. “The other team’s mids are really talented as well, so I think she put up a good battle.”
Libertyville showed its fight, but the Fillies were just too good Friday.
“I think they break out really quickly, and I think that’s probably the biggest thing is each one of their opportunities came on a fast-breaking counter,” DePaz said. “We made a mistake or turned it over, whatever, and here they come.
“That backline is good too. We didn’t have many chances, so that backline shut us down.”
GK: Megan Holland
D: Roos VanRoekel
D: Hannah Blue
D: Ellie Sanchez
D: Meredith McGreevy
M: Maddie Ziebarth
M: Brooke Brown
M: Kaitlin Taylor
F: Piper Lucier
F: Sarah Sarnowski
F: Kate Lubinsky
GK: Kate Hopma
D: Maddie Kosowski
D: Shannon Phillips
D: Erin Kelly
D: Maddy Kopala
M: Molly Koch
M: Tess McGormley
M: Prudence Babat
M: Shea Krakowski
M: Jenna Krakowski
F: Ellie Rebman
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Brooke Brown, sr., MF, Barrington.
Barrington: Piper Lucier 38:30 remaining
Barrington: Brooke Brown 15:55 remaining
Barrington: Brown 13:20 remaining
Barrington: Sarah Sarnowski (Roos VanRoekel) 6:25 remaining
Barrington: Skye Lundy (Lucy Stanton), 2:34 remaing