A long-awaited moment of glory finally arrived late Saturday night for Barrington’s girls soccer team when Sophia Spinell’s conversion of a decisive spot kick sent the Fillies’ players and fans into a state championship frenzy.
It took overtime and penalty kicks to get there, which made the 1-0 conclusion to Saturday night’s Class 3A state championship game all the more satisfying.
The Fillies capped their 28-1 season with the kind of drama befitting two terrific teams at North Central College in Naperville. New Trier was after a fourth straight championship, but neither team had been able to score after regulation and overtime.
So it took penalty kicks to decide this highly entertaining final.
Fillies keeper Samantha Schmitz turned away a second-round attempt by New Trier, and Spinell drove in the game-winner to give Barrington its first-ever girls soccer championship trophy.
“This is so crazy — it’s like a deja vu right now,” said Spinell, a senior whose reference to the past was about a similiar situtation almost two years prior to the day. In that instance, Spinell’s PK attempt in the 57th minute grazed the bar during a semifinal on the same field as New Trier went on to win 1-0.
“Nearly everything about my PK tonight was just like it was two years ago,” said Spinell, “except this time, when I put my attempt in, it meant we were the state champs.”
Both of these storied programs held the upper hand from time to time at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium. But in the end, both goalkeepers distinguished themselves in forcing the dramatics.
Trevians senior Katy Symanietz kept the Fillies’ Michayla Herr from an early goal at eight minutes and stopped Anna Brodjian three minutes later.
A brilliant effort from Schmitz, who elevated high in the air to deny a seemingly unstoppable blast from Emma Weaver stood out as the best save of the night.
“We see that type of save during our training sessions,” said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren, “but rarely do others see it during our games, because our defense just doesn’t allow very many good looks on frame.
“That’s why we were so confident heading into PKs — because we knew what we have with Sam.”
With both teams effectively absorbing the opponent’s pressure and successfully defending corner kicks and free kicks, it might have been a little bit of luck that turned things in Barrington’s favor.
With a big, raucous crowd getting ready for the impending shootout, the referee ruled that New Trier’s Hannah Arment had been hauled down in the box.
Sydney Parker drove her penalty kick off the post, then watched the rebound spill to teammate Lily Conley — who sent her shot wide of an open net.
“You need a lot of things to happen in order to win a state title, and luck is one of them,” said New Trier coach Jim Burnside. “But we didn’t have it when we needed it. Barrington did — and they were the better team in the end.”
While the Trevians (24-3-1) missed two of their spot kicks in the PK round and Schmitz made her save on Weaver, Barrington’s Herr and Kayla Keck were perfect on their attempts to set up Spinell.
“This is what we’ve been working for just forever, and right now, it’s a feeling that I cannot describe,” said Keck.
“It’s a dream come true,” said an emotional Jackie Batliner, who along with Spinell were named all-state for the second consecutive season. “You work, make the commitment to each other and the program, and this is the best way to end a career.”
After Stengren was doused by his team and finished a TV interview, he had plenty to say about his 2017 championship club.
“The girls have given all they have to win this state title, most recently not going to graduation last night, or a senior trip a few days ago and instead having a team dinner,” he said. “I am so proud of everyone of them right now, just as I have been all season long.”