HUNTLEY – One step was all it took.
Open space was at a premium for both teams in Saturday’s Class 3A Huntley Regional championship game, so when South Elgin’s Katrina Barthelt found herself a step ahead of the Huntley defense, she capitalized.
Barthelt sprinted up the right side of the field with the ball at her feet and punched a shot past Huntley goalkeeper Jenna Franklin for the game’s only goal three minutes into overtime.
South Elgin held on for the final 17 minutes for a 1-0 win and their first regional title since 2016.
“[Barthelt] is a good player,” Huntley senior defender Alyssa Costantino said. “When she did that, it was good on her part, but it was unlucky for us.”
The game wasn’t over, but after neither team scored in regulation, one goal felt as if it would be enough. South Elgin (14-3-3) clamped down defensively through the remainder of overtime.
“Going into overtime, we felt strong,” Huntley midfielder Braidy Ceh said. “We kind of broke down once the goal was scored.”
Huntley (10-9-2) had hoped to win its first regional title since 2017. The Red Raiders won 11 consecutive regionals from 2007 to 2017. For the second straight year, they went home empty-handed.
“I guess it just wasn’t our day,” coach Matt Lewandowski said. “It definitely wasn’t due to lack of effort. We dug deep; we were there; we couldn’t get anything to fall in the goal. It was just not our day, and, unfortunately, there’s no more days after this.”
Scoring chances were few and far between. The Red Raiders did not have a corner kick until the second half. Huntley’s Avery Fitzgerald had one open look in the first half, but her shot was right at South Elgin goalkeeper Megan McClure.
It seemed every Huntley free kick was knocked away by the Storm defense. South Elgin coach Laura Szwaja said she had a feeling it would be a one-goal difference.
On her goal, Barthelt barely had enough room to fire a shot.
“Her strength is that she will sneak those ones in there that you don’t see coming,” Szwaja said. “So she’s able to create and to stay on a ball that in other situations is dead. She’s a huge factor in our success. She stayed in there, and she stayed with it.”
South Elgin advanced to face two-time defending state champion Barrington at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 3A Guilford Sectional semifinals. The winner awaits Cary-Grove or Hononegah.
South Elgin won the Upstate Eight Conference for the first time this season, Szwaja said.
“Their size is a challenge,” Lewandowski said. “They’re a pretty big group. We’re not very large, so that’s tough for us. Balls in the air is what it comes down to.”
Huntley goalkeeper Lexi Kozak made three saves, while Jenna Franklin made two saves.
STAR OF THE GAME
Huntley, sr., D
Costantino and the Red Raiders' defense played a near-perfect game in Saturday’s Class 3A Huntley Regional final. Unfortunately, one mistake cost Huntley in a 1-0 loss.
83: For almost 83 minutes, neither team could find the back of the net. South Elgin freshman Katrina Barthelt scored three minutes into overtime.
AND ANOTHER THING …
South Elgin will face two-time defending state champion Barrington at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 3A Guilford Sectional semifinals.
South Elgin 1, Huntley 0 (2OT)
SE 0 0 1 0 – 1
Hunt 0 0 0 0 – 0
SE – Barthelt, 83rd minute.
Goalkeeper save – South Elgin: McClure 8. Huntley: Kozak 3, Franklin 2.