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Season preview: Barrington

By Mike Garofola, 08/20/23, 5:30PM CDT


Barrington figures to fit squarely in the Mid-Suburban League West Division race as the Broncos prepare to open the season.

The Broncos are the holders of nine division titles and have lifted the Soccer Cup trophy four times. The most recent came in the spring of 2021, when the club defeated Buffalo Grove 2-1 in the shortened make-up season brought about by COVID-19.

Last fall, the Broncos got off to a 4-1-1 start before falling 4-3 in overtime to Conant in the final of the Barrington Classic.

The Broncos scored three or more goals on just three other occasions afterward and played .500 soccer the rest of the way. That included six shutouts against them, though one finished in a shootout win.

"(Obviously) scoring was a weakness last year," said senior defender Logan Cidulka. “It cost of a number of games along the way. While I am a little concerned as to where we might find more goals this year, I feel real good about having Philip (Jackowski) and Daniel (Gawronski) as our potential goal scorers. Having Mattie (Vitale) back (in the defensive midfield) is really big for us.”

Cidulka is part of what looks to be a watertight defense that can help senior Charlie Field ease into his new, regular goalkeeping duties. He takes over for Chicagoland Soccer all-state keeper Iker Villagomez.

"Having Mattie back for the entire season, and in front of our backline, will make a big difference in the way we defend and attack. That is easily one of the strengths of our team this year," continued Cidulka, whose older brother Josef starred for the Broncos as a central defender.

Logan is set to join his brother at the University of Illinois next fall.

Sophomore Jack Ball will play the other middle position with senior Adam Walocha and junior Nico Hausser on the outside.

"Our backline will be really strong this year," offered Vitale, who missed the better part of the first 14 games a year ago due to a hip injury.

"That group is big, athletic and skilled, much like our midfield," added Vitale. He is in favor of the Broncos playing a 4-1-4-1 formation, while Cidulka suggests a 4-3-3.

Vitale has his eyes on a large college campus for next fall. He’s undecided on whether he will continue to play. His academic focus is on possible careers in pediatrics or business. Vitale stays busy in club activities at Barrington and within the community. He is involved with the Big Red Spirit Club, PACT (Peers All Come Together) and SNOWFLAKE, a drug and alcohol prevention group.

"Mattie is a versatile player with great feet, and vision,” said manager Scott Steib. “He will be a valuable asset to us in aerial duels as well.”

"As our co-captain, along with Cidulka, Mattie is well-respected, and he will do an outstanding job of leading and guiding our team this fall."

Cidulka, just like his teammate, is a two-year starter.

"Logan is a hard-nosed, physically strong defender, who will set the tone for our defensive organization because of his mental strength," said Steib. "(He) will be another critical piece for our team in terms of leadership."

Barrington finished 11-8-4 last season with a 5-2-4 league mark that ranked seventh in the table and third among West Division teams. The Broncos graduated 12, but that has not dampened the spirits of Steib and his staff.

"We really like the core we have returning. In addition to those players, several others look ready to step in and contribute immediately," said Steib, who listed junior Pat Tabb (midfielder) as one of his top-returning men. He added the names of the aforementioned Ball and Field, in addition to seniors Kian Cullen (forward) and Andy Sfondilis (midfielder/defender).

Steib is set to begin his 25th year in charge of the Broncos program. He began his coaching career with six years seasons at Lake Zurich (1994-1999). 

He enters the season with a 398-130-49 record. Among his numerous accomplishments are a Class 3A state championship in 2007 and a runnerup finish in 2016. He was inducted into the coaches’ Hall of Fame in 2019.

"(Coach) Steib is an amazing person to play for,” Cidulka said. “I absolutely love the guy. He not only teaches so much about the sport, but life itself.

"He's tough on all of us, makes us work hard, but he's fair. He makes all us better persons. I've been very fortunate to play for him."

The Broncos will open Tuesday night at home against Maine South in the annual Central Suburban League/Mid-Suburban Leage Challenge. They will then turn their attentions to hosting the long-running Barrington Classic. The eight-team event features group play among two divisions throughout the week of August 28.

Barrington will play Jacobs, Glenbrook North and Lake Zurich and hope to earn a spot in the Saturday final for the second-consecutive time.

Looking over the upcoming conference season, it appears Conant and Palatine are the teams to beat in the Mid-Suburban League West Division.

Conant, which won more games than any other club in the league last season (20) returns dynamic forward and dual all-stater Krystian Niziolek, who scored 17 goals and recorded 11 assists as a junior. The Cougars will also welcome back two club players and have a terrific complimentary group on the roster.

Palatine has a marvelous group in place led by Andrew Kania, Jordan Mok and Karol Noga. The Pirates appear to have the pieces for a strong offense.

Reigning league and Soccer Cup champion Fremd lost 10 from its First 11, so there will likely be a period of adjustment for manager Steve Keller. But the longtime Vikings manager, as always, should sort things out at or near the halfway point of the season.