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Game story: Can-do ‘Duda’ the difference in Barrington win over Maine South

By Bill McLean, 08/23/23, 10:30PM CDT


Skilled senior’s crafty play lifts Broncos in CSL/MSL Challenge

BARRINGTON — At a pivotal moment in Tuesday night’s Central Suburban League/Mid-Suburban League Challenge match between Maine South and Barrington, a Duda did what he wanted to do.

“’Duda’ had earned the right to do what he did there,” Barrington coach Scott Steib said of Broncos senior midfielder Daniel “Duda” Gawronski’s first half goal after Barrington’s season-opening 1-0 victory.

“He improvised, made a nice little move,” the program’s 25th- year helmsman added. “You’re allowed to do that, especially when what you did to reach that point was perfect.”

Tuesday’s key sequence at Barrington Community Stadium began with a smooth feed from Broncos’ senior back Mattie Vitale in the 33rd minute. A sprinting Gawronski shifted into a higher gear after controlling the textbook lead pass.

“Speed! Speed! Speed!” Steib shouted from the home bench as Gawronski approached midfield against backpedaling Hawks.

Gawronski then stopped abruptly with the ball still at his feet, prompting another loud order from his coach: “Now do whatever you want!” Steib yelled.

Gawronski cut hard to his right to create all the space he needed to unleash a cracker of a shot from 30 yards. The ball curved slightly to the left as it sailed over the hands of Maine South senior goalkeeper Alex Gallinger.

“Yes, I heard (Steib) before I took the shot,” said a smiling Gawronski, who scored three goals for Barrington’s 11-win team last fall.

“We were a little passive in the first half,” Maine South coach Dan States admitted. “But (Gawronski) took a heckuva shot. It was a learning experience for our young kids and new varsity players. Barrington has many technically gifted players, and they’re not afraid to get physical.”

Gawronski earned Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honors on the night Broncos freshman goalkeeper Evan Ryder made his varsity debut. His first prep goal kick was a sound one, finding the head of the 6-foot-5, 190-pound Vitale near mid-pitch in minute 17, which happens to be Vitale’s jersey number.

Ryder made history in the game. He’s the first frosh keeper that Steib has started at Barrington.

The newcomer ended with only one save, but he pounced on loose balls to thwart threats and was as vocal as he needed to be to help organize his mates in front of him. If you think it’s easy for a recent eighth-grader to bark orders at soon-to-be collegians, think again.

“Evan looked confident and composed out there,” Steib said, adding Ryder and Broncos senior Charlie Field will share time in goal for at least the next half-dozen matches before he commits to a regular starter. “That’s pretty excellent for a freshman at such an important position.”

Ryder found out on Monday afternoon that he’d received the nod to start.

His first phone call, shortly thereafter?

“I called my parents to let them know,” Ryder said.

Barrington (1-0-0) dialed up patience in the warm conditions in the first half Tuesday night, using crisp passes and making smart decisions to establish the run of play.

Meanwhile, Maine South senior center back and tri-captain Sam Middendorf played his heart out and appeared to be in midseason form.

“Sam knows how to handle the ball and play composed soccer,” States said. “And he never gets rattled.”

Hawks senior midfielder and tri-captain Zach Malinsky, one of Maine South’s primary scoring threats, also earned recognition from his coach.

“Zach just couldn’t get any open looks, because Barrington usually put two or three bodies on him,” States noted.

Barrington senior Andy Sfondilis, listed as a midfielder but deployed as a back Tuesday night, was a constant, disruptive force alongside Vitale. During a battle with a Hawk to retain possession in the 28th minute, Sfondilis — while sitting on the turf and churning his legs after a fall — somehow managed to
tap the loose ball to a teammate.

“(Barrington assistant coach) Ata Ozbay singled out Andy in front of the team after one of our summer sessions,” Steib recalled. “He told the guys, ‘You should notice all the little things that Andy does.’ But Ata wasn’t just talking soccer then; he was pointing out the qualities of Andy, the great person and team leader.”

Maine South (0-1-0) refused to wilt in the second half and applied significant offensive pressure as Barrington vied to secure a cozier two-goal edge.

“We played much better, and much harder, after halftime,” said Middendorf, who suffered an injury to his right shin in the 53rd minute but returned to action 10 minutes later. “A lot of that had to do with us trailing. Tough first game.”

“Tight first game,” Steib said. “We were more fatigued than Maine South was in the second half, and we had some fitness issues. Maine South played with energy and effort after the break. Maybe their players found a way to prepare for this kind of heat by somehow simulating it at practice.

“I’m happy, though. We played well in moments.”

Barrington visits Schaumburg on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. for its MSL opener that was originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 29. Steib’s crew already had that date booked for the 19th-annual Great River Classic on Sept. 29 and 30 in Bettendorf, Ia.

Maine South meets another Mid-Suburban League club when it hosts Elk Grove at 7 p.m. Thursday.


Steib notched his 399th win as a Broncos head coach Tuesday night. During his run he has only seen one team post a record under .500. He coached five seasons at Lake Zurich before accepting the Barrington post in 1999. … Name game: A Ball (sophomore defender Jack) and a Field (senior goalkeeper Charlie) are Barrington teammates. … Because of the excessive heat on Tuesday, a hydration break halted action at the 20-minute mark of each half. Glenn Fry’s song “The Heat Is On” blared during the first stoppage, and the Martha and the Vandella’s tune “Heat Wave” was played in the middle of the second half. That is quality PA-man tune-smithing right there. … States is in his 32nd season (25th as the varsity’s head coach) at Maine South. He welcomed back nine players from last fall’s varsity squad. “I’m looking forward to seeing how our young guys mix with our experienced players, as well as how those new to varsity react to the competition at this level,” States said before Tuesday’s kickoff. … Maine South junior backup goalkeeper Joe Figula (two saves) replaced an injured Gallinger (one save) in the 35th minute. … Barrington took three corner kicks to Maine South’s one. … The Broncos' Vitale helped the Libertyville FC 1974 Elite-05 squad capture a 2023 USYS national championship in late July. … The MSL, which held the home-pitch advantage, won the Challenge by a 7-3-1 margin. Hersey (4-3 over Niles North), Hoffman Estates (5-1 over Highland Park), Palatine (3-1 over Maine East), Prospect (7-2 over Deerfield), Schaumburg (4-0 over Niles West) and Wheeling (4-1 over Maine West) claimed victories. Evanston (1-0 over Elk Grove), Glenbrook North (4-0 over Buffalo Grove) and New Trier (2-1 over Conant in the highest-ranked battle) represented the Central Suburban League well. In the only other match, Fremd tied Vernon Hills. Glenbrook South did not participate, because it faced a three-game week in the North Shore tournament (Lake Forest). There it won its opener 3-0 against Zion-Benton on Tuesday. That left Rolling Meadows with time on its hands. The Mustangs put it to good use with a 4-0 home-opening win against Crystal Lake Central on Tuesday.

Starting lineups

Maine South
GK Alex Gallinger
D Sam Cohen
D Sam Middendorf
D Wyatt Kelleher
D Darragh Cronnolly
MF Alex Petkovic
MF Zach Malinsky
MF Cristian Abdala
MF Sebastian Bonifacy
MF Dexter Kelleher
F Nick Milkowski

GK Evan Ryder
D Andy Sfondilis
D Mattie Vitale
D Nico Hausser
D Logan Cidulka
MF Duda Gawronski
MF Kyle Krull
MF Brian Mazgaj
MF Patrick Tabb
MF Vidhit Dureja
F Philip Jackowski

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Daniel Gawronski, sr., MF, Barrington

Scoring summary

First half
Barrington — Gawronski (Vitale), 33’

Second half
No scoring