Boys soccer: Barrington nips Libertyville in regional title game
Ten-man Barrington has advanced into the Class 3A Fremd boys soccer sectional next Tuesday night following its 2-1 victory over Libertyville Saturday afternoon in a fierce regional final played at Barrington Community Stadium.
Next up for the No. 2 seed Broncos (14-2-3) is No. 13 Mundelein (12-7-3) at 7 p.m. in its sectional semifinal at Hale Hildebrandt Field in Palatine.
"It was not the prettiest game you'll ever see, but sometimes at this time of the year, it's not about pretty soccer -- it's about advancing to play another day, and that's what our guys did today against a very good Libertyville team," said Broncos coach Scott Steib, whose club last won a regional title in 2018.
After the Wildcats poured on plenty of pressure from the opening whistle, most of it coming from searing deep long throws from Jon Melcher, the Broncos stunned the visitors when they failed to clear a free kick, then watched Kyle Wanca steer in his close-range effort in the 9th minute.
"We were all over Barrington right from the start. Maybe if we put one of those long throws in from Melcher the result might be different, but who knows," said Wildcats coach Kevin Thunholm, whose club ends its season at 10-7-4.
"I thought we had a lot of the play today, and the guys played about as good as we could have but they put in their two best chances of the game, and we didn't."
During the first 40 minutes, Melcher would toss 8 deep throws into the Broncos' box, with a handful of them reaching the spot, and another to the far post, but Wanca and his back line teammates along with captain Jeremiah Gascho defended bravely these dangerous situations to help keep their side in the game.
"We did all we could as a unit to keep the ball from going into the back of our net in the first 10-12 minutes. It was a great team effort to do so," said Wanca.
"Scoring the first goal is always big but in the postseason, it means even more so for Kyle to get us the opener was really important," added Gascho.
Wanca would double the Broncos' advantage in the 53rd minute when he finished at the back post.
Moments later, a second yellow card booking for dissent meant the home side would play a man down for the next 27 minutes.
With the Wildcats pushing more numbers forward as they looked to take advantage of having an extra player, they went in search of pulling one goal back.
Jack Huber went wide from 30 yards, Cole Danner had his effort saved by keeper Iker Villagomez, but several of Huber's well-aimed balls sent into the area were turned away.
Junior Alek LaRoi would break through after beating a trio of challengers in the 74th minute, but the Broncos would prevail to earn themselves a victory.
"It's always tough to go out at this time of the season, especially for the seniors but they all should be very proud of their effort tonight, and the season that we had," said Thunholm.
"It wasn't easy so to come away with the result we came here for says a lot about the character, heart and effort our guys put forth today," added Steib.