The championship match of the 29th annual “Barrington Classic” matched our Broncos up against the high flying Jacobs Golden Eagles. Jacobs had soared into the final, winning all three of their pool games, scoring 12 goals in those matches. Entering the match, our team knew we had a big challenge and that we would need to defend as a team in order to slow them down — especially Wisconsin-bound, all-state forward Noah Melick (a strong, hard working, extremely fast, and highly technical player — easily one of the best players in Illinois.)
The game started slow for our squad, as some poor choices and execution of passes resulted in us being pinned back and being extremely busy defending for the first four minutes. On the first actual occasion that we connected a pass or two, we ended up scoring, as Michael Blanke blistered along the right side and slipped a perfect pass into the feet of Klaus Pallan. Bang… 1-0 Broncos!
Less than ten minutes later, Blanke would net a goal for himself, as he pressured the Jacobs keeper forcing him into an error and then tucked the ball into an empty net.
Jacobs, who were still controlling good portions of the game in terms of possession and tempo, would not quick though, and they were rewarded for the efforts when a corner kick slipped through some new post traffic and found Noah Melick who easily cut the deficit in half.
Just a handful of minutes later though, tonight’s “Man of the Match” (Michael Blanke) had a few ideas of his own, and the electric junior forward showed great intelligence with a flat run in between the two Jacobs center backs, where our midfield maestro Gio Guarnero skillfully weighted a perfect through ball to him. From there, the race to the goal was on. Blanke zipped into the box and coolly tucked the ball past the Jacobs keeper, restoring the two goal margin.
Eight minutes after halftime, Jacobs would cut the BHS lead to 3-2, but Blanke again lifted our squad as his third goal of the evening again came just a few minutes after the Eagles goal. This time, Blanke beat the keeper with a screamer from almost no angle on the left. The pace of the shot combined with the wet turf were too much for the goalkeeper.
Left back Noah Sebens, who played extremely well throughout the tournament, would add a fifth goal in the 73rd minute, after his backline mate Charlie Frank delivered a simple enough pass to him. Sebens’ first ever varsity goal was a well struck, dipping ball from 35+ yards out. It’s trajectory mesmerized the Eagles keeper who couldn’t get a hand on it.
The final minutes of the match saw our team play some of the smartest soccer we did all night, with Jose Esparza coming on in the midfield and working some good possession for our team as we milked the clock down.
Our boys deserve a healthy amount of credit for bending and not breaking tonight, and for beating a very good opponent. On the week (for the tournament), several players elevated their games; Michael Blanke, Connor Delahunt, Gio Guarnero and Nathan Patterson all earned spots of the All-Tournament Team. Noah Sebens, Charlie Frank and Bronco goalie Brett Sprengel also played big roles for us, and so did the quartet of Ethan Lew, Aidan Lew, Omkar Prabhavalkar and Colton Wever. The high work rates of the latter four, served as a disruptive disturbance to each of our opponents. Klaus Pallan seemed to also get himself on track in the final, which is a great sign for our squad.
A few final tournament notes – the victory tonight earns our team back-to-back tournament titles for only the second time in the tournament’s twenty-nine year history. (We also won back-to-back titles in 2005 & 2006.) The victory marks the eighth time we have lifted the tournment crown in those twenty-nine years.
2017 BARRINGTON CLASSIC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!
BHS — Pallan, Klaus (Michael Blanke) — 5th minute
BHS — Blanke, Michael (UA) — 12th minute
Jacobs (Melick, Noah) — 30th minute
BHS — Blanke, Michael (Gio Guarnero) — 33rd minute
Jacobs — 53rd minute
BHS — Blanke, Michael (Klaus Pallan) — 65th minute
BHS — Sebens, Noah (Charlie Frank) — 73rd minute