Bison keep the dream alive, head to sectional final
By Mike Garofola
Second-half goals from David Conrad and Connor Hennelly and another night of stifling defense and quality keeper work from Pat Deroche sent Barrington (18-3-4) to a sectional title game on Tuesday.
The Broncos will face MSL rival Buffalo Grove in a Class 3A sectional final at Mundelein, after coach Scott Steib's lads proved too strong for Lake Forest in a 3-0 win.
Senior Jonathan Wilson gave the Broncos the lead at 11 minutes after his club struggled to find its pace during the early exchanges. Despite some morale boosting play from John O'Connor, Keegan Kulby and captain, John Moderwell, the Scouts (13-7-1) never found their feet and were unable to pry open the Broncos vaunted backline, which has conceded one goal during the postseason and just 12 on the season.
"We knew it was important to score first and after a slow start, we found our game,” Wilson said. “I thought put them under with some great work from our midfield, and pressure on top from David (Conrad) and myself, and the other players that (Steib) brought on throughout the game.”
Lake Forest coach Rob Parry spoke to the challenge that Barrington posed against his Scouts.
"They are tactically very sound along the back and through the middle, and they have a keeper who sees the game and has great hands,” Parry said. “So when you start chasing a team like that, it's going to be a difficult road unless you cut into their lead as quickly as you can.”
Wilson and Conrad were rewarded for their work rate after Conrad broke clear of two defenders before rattling the post with his shot. Wilson followed up and then steered past keeper Jack Sentell, who could do nothing after an unfriendly stick spilled a sitter for the lanky Broncos striker.
Conrad put his club on the brink with a superb effort, with Connor Hennelly the architect in the 49th minute goal.
The play began with a nice little 1-2 combination and when Hennelly put his teammate through, it pulled Sentell far off his line into no-man’s land. Conrad quickly drove his low drive past the keeper.
"David's work of late has been of the highest quality, and we saw it on that second goal,” Steib said.
"The game wasn't over by any means at that point, but it's a tough deficit to overcome and I think his goal was kind of the beginning of the end for them."
After a patient buildup from Giles Phillips, Wilson and Conrad, the Lake Forest bench howled when the center official ruled against its protest that Sentell had complete control of a ball he tried to collect, which Hennelly slotted under the keeper from in close after he dispossessed the Scouts senior.
In control at the hour mark with a 3-0 advantage, it was time for Deroche -- now with 13.5 clean-sheets -- and his backline mates to stay water-tight for the rest of the way.
"This was a really good result for us today, and I felt a deserving one as well," said Steib.
"I know Buffalo Grove (8-8-6) is looking forward to a rematch with us after a hard-fought match the first time around, and we'll be expecting to get everything they can give us for 80 minutes."
The Bison's story-book postseason run continued after Rick Carlson's lads held off Carmel in the second match of the day, using some good fortune with Daniel Ramirez' 52nd minute game-winning freekick, and furious defending in the final 10 minutes of regulation to secure a 2-1 win over the Corsairs.
"It wasn't easy out there tonight, but nobody really is expecting anything easy this time of the year," Carlson said, after his 15th-seeded club recorded its fourth postseason victory. The Bison knocked off Zion-Benton in a play-in game, and then beat second-seeded Warren and MSL rival Palatine to win a regional title.
"It's kind of crazy to think of all the attacking and individual talent we had last year with that division championship team, and how quickly we were out of the tournament,” Carlson said. “Then take a look one year later at a team which has never given up, even when our overall record looked so bad, and now we’re in a sectional final with Barrington.
"It says a lot about this team."
A late-arriving audience likely missed the opening goal as Todor Dimitrov was on target in the first minute of the match after taking a lovely ball from Pat Tucharski, which split the Carmel defense wide open.
"I can't tell you how good it feels to score first, and to give the assist in such a big game," said Tucharski, whom Carlson heaped plenty of praise on afterwards for his sparkling 80-minute performance.
"Pat was just outstanding,” Carlson said. "He brought so much energy and excitement to the game, and he just seemed to be everywhere tonight, creating, tracking back and defending, and getting us going on the right foot so early."
The Bison continued to press forward and looked to put their collective shooting boots firmly on the throats of the Corsairs (12-8-3) with Zach Masciopinto, Ryan Drum, Sean King, Nick Pilli, Tucharski, and regional final hero Drew Brauner all part of a dominating first half hour.
But the Corsairs stood firm, and later would draw even as the first period came to a close.
Jeremy Jenich pulled the Bison's early goal back when he headed past keeper Ricardo Valencia on an inward swinging corner from Timmy Karich in the 40th minute, giving second-year manager Ray Krawzak the boost his side needed.
"I wasn't worried after that first goal, because I knew if we could get back even before the break, we'd be in good shape for the second half," said Krawzak, the former star midfielder under Saint Viator and coach Mike Taylor.
Krawzak might have been correct in his assessment, but he could not have foreseen BG’s game-winning goal, when a piercing 45-yard freekick from Ramirez roared into the back of the net past Carmel freshman keeper Jacob Spheeris.
"It was a tough one, no doubt, but (Jacob) has been great and in reality, we didn't finish the quality chances we created,” Krawzak said. “Ultimately, that’s what did us in.”
Carlson was pleased with yet another solid performance from his boys in back.
"We bent and bent in the last 15 minutes or so, but we didn't break and to be honest, I cannot think of another center back around that I'd want right now other than Allan Santiaguillo,” Carlson said. “He saved us a couple of times, while keeping things organized when Carmel kept coming at us.”
Valencia, who was strong for the third consecutive time in the tournament, turned away three shots on frame in the last six minutes, his best against Drew Miller, who had a good look from 16 yards in the 78th minute.
Barrington beat Buffalo Grove 1-0 in their regular-season MSL game on Sept. 24 on a penalty kick in the game's 79th minute.