ALGONQUIN – Barrington. It’s always Barrington.
All the heartache of the past two seasons returned Tuesday as the clock ticked down in the Huntley girls soccer team’s IHSA Class 3A Jacobs Sectional semifinal against the Fillies.
When the final buzzer sounded to end the match and Barrington again walked away with a victory, 1-0, to end the Red Raiders’ season, that pain grew as the sixth-ranked team in the nation exited the postseason earlier than expected.
“It’s frustrating that we don’t get by Barrington,” Huntley coach Kris Grabner said as his players consoled one another in a corner of Jacobs’ field. “Everyone says this matchup should be a sectional final, but it doesn’t matter because we have to play one way or another, and Barrington played very well.”
The Raiders lost to the Fillies in the 2009 sectional final and in a sectional semifinal last season. It was a trend Huntley was determined to break this year.
Huntley (19-2-1) came in with confidence, but the Fillies played like the team with nothing to lose, and as soon as the Raiders made a mistake Barrington capitalized on it.
Barrington senior Catie Curran took a pass from sophomore Aimee Pierce and turned on it at the top of the box. She sent the shot into the right corner past Huntley goalkeeper Kaytlyn Owens for the one-goal cushion with 30 minutes to go in the match.
“It felt good when I hit it,” Curran said. “We’ve been practicing shooting a lot, and I think that helped.
“[Huntley is] really good with a lot of seniors, but we have a lot of seniors on this team too, so we wanted to win pretty badly. Both teams played really hard.”
The Raiders responded but couldn’t get much going. Senior forward Aimee Wronski struggled to work around two and three defenders for much of the game, and Huntley didn’t get off crisp enough passes.
With 10 seconds left in their season, the Raiders manufactured their best offensive chance of the match. Senior Rachel Chapuis sent a ball to senior forward Emily Konior, who knocked a shot from the far left side right to Barrington goalkeeper Kelly Pedersen.
Wronski followed in the shot when Pedersen dropped it behind the line, but Huntley’s players ran into her as the buzzer sounded. The official issued a foul on Huntley, nixing the potential goal.
“It was the right call,” Grabner said. “I hoped he wouldn’t call it, obviously, but it was the right call.”
Konior thought the Raiders had sent the game into an extra session, but saw her teammates bump the keeper and knew the goal might not count.
“I thought it was in,” she said, “but I knew we bumped [Pedersen].”
The Raiders still put together an impressive season. They were ranked nationally by ESPN RISE, won their fifth consecutive Fox Valley Conference Fox or Valley title and their fourth regional in a row.
But Barrington had Huntley’s number again.
“They came out really hard, especially in the second half,” Konior said. “Right off the bat, it seemed like with their intensity they had an edge.”