HUNTLEY – McHenry senior goalkeeper Frankie Valle knew there would be some guesswork involved as he prepared for penalty kicks during Wednesday’s Class 3A Huntley Sectional semifinal match against DeKalb.
Tied at 1 after two 10-minute overtime periods, McHenry and DeKalb faced off in penalty kicks. And when it mattered most, Valle delivered the big save. Valle turned away DeKalb’s fourth penalty kick, his 11th save of the game, to give the Warriors a 2-1 win.
The Warriors edged the Barbs, 4-2, in penalty kicks to advance to Saturday’s sectional final against Larkin. Evan Hying, Mike Lawrence, Ryan Uhl and Phil Shelton each scored during penalty kicks for McHenry (13-8-3). It’s McHenry second consecutive win in penalty kicks.
“I just wanted to win,” Valle said. “I was looking for the ball and went to the right and blocked it with one hand. All I wanted was that one save to give our team the win.”
Early this season, DeKalb beat McHenry, 6-0, but the Barbs couldn’t replicate that offensive performance. DeKalb outshot the Warriors, 9-3. The Barbs also had 10 corner kicks, while the Warriors did not attempt one.
“A Herculean effort by our guys against that team,” McHenry coach Tony Caruso said. “ ... We needed that Herculean, McHenry-style effort and we got it, so we’re happy with it.”
McHenry employed a bend-but-don’t-break defense most of the match. However, midway through the second half, DeKalb (19-3) finally got past McHenry’s defense to score the equalizer. Barbs forward Akim Suraji streaked down the left sideline, and his cross in front of the net found teammate Trevor Freeland, who tucked the ball inside the right post to tie the score at 1.
McHenry took a 1-0 lead at the 19:16 mark of the first half on senior Kyle Marsh’s goal. DeKalb goalkeeper Owen Sawyer (four saves) stopped Marsh’s initial shot, but he fired the rebound into the back of the net to give McHenry the lead.
“We wanted everyone to get our marks and pressure hard,” Shelton said. “We knew to play smart and drop back if we needed to and not push up as much.”
DeKalb had plenty of chances to score in the first half. The Barbs had five corner kicks during the first 40 minutes but couldn’t convert. It seemed like a matter of when, not if, DeKalb would break the tie against McHenry, but the defense held strong.
“We felt like we had a ton of momentum,” Barbs coach Brent McIntosh said. “We had a desire to score that second goal, and I thought we had some real quality chances throughout the second half. McHenry did an outstanding job of packing it in and forcing us to play from distance.”