This was a CRAZY GAME! An absolute tale of two halves, for each of the teams involved, with our Broncos ending up on top and on their way to the 2016 IHSA State Championship match vs. Naperville North.
The Conant Cougars played an excellent first half tonight, and deserves much credit for making us look hesitant and nervous. Those rough patches lead to two Conant goals and a 0-2 deficit for our Broncos to overcome. It was not what we had hoped for.
At halftime, we discussed how we always try to be prepared for the “best case scenario” but also the “worst case scenario” too. Well, tonight’s first half was pretty close to a “worst-possible-case-ever scenario”… but it was also just one half. The facts were that we had 40 minutes remaining to save our DREAM. We agreed that we all needed to first BELIEVE that we were definitely capable of a comeback. We also agreed that we needed to DECIDE to work as hard as possible, and not leave one drop of sweat, blood (or whatever else was required) inside of us. Over the years, the game has taught us that momentum can shift quickly AND when it does, all kinds of things are possible. We walked away from the halftime meeting hoping we could spark something.
In the next 67 seconds, we scored TWICE and leveled the score at 2-2! Wow! Are you kidding me!?!!? The goals came on a couple of incredible moments of greatness, the first as Enrico Ruffolo slipped a ball into Caleb Orr, who had made a perfectly timed run splitting the two deepest Conant center backs. Orr collected the ball and raced in behind everyone except the Conant goalkeeper. After a final touch to settle, Orr neatly slotted his shot past the goalie and the Cougar lead was cut in half. The goal came just seconds into the half.
Less than a minute later, Gio Guarnero chased a ball headed toward the endline on the right flank as hard as possible. Just managing to get to it inches before it would cross the line, Gio screamed a low cross across the face of the Cougar goal, past their lunging keeper and to the back side of the now empty goal. Klaus Pallan matched Gio’s effort with a crashing run of his own and slammed the pass into the back of the net! 2-2!!!
We were on it now! All of the momentum was ours, and the moments after these two goals were all Barrington. The confidence flowed in excess and was evident with every touch of the ball. Barrington Soccer at it’s finest! In the 48th minute, we took the lead on one of the finest goals we have ever scored. Caleb Orr gathered the ball in front of the Bronco bench, and before even glancing, cut and whipped a ball, just more than head height, in behind the Conant defense. Pallan was on it and sent his redirected header past the goalkeeper once again. MY OH MY!!! We had taken the lead in just 8 minutes!
Each of the goals was a thing of beauty. So much skill and precision was required for each of them. And don’t forget the effort level required on each of them as well. WOW! WOW! WOW!
The game went scoreless for the next 11 minutes, however the flow of the game stayed with us. We played so well that Conant was left to defend and defend and defend. The rhythm they had in the first forty minutes was no more and connecting passes wasn’t in the design.
In the 61st minute, Kyle Owen, who had been inserted a few minutes earlier added a sweet insurance goal from the left, rewarding him for some excellent moments of skill and effort of his own. The assists on this tally went to Pallan and Orr.
The game was closed out over the final quarter and the Broncos were victorious! Conant, had managed just two shots in the second half, compared to 12 for our Broncos. We had only managed 3 shots in the first half, but as you have read, the second half seemed to be played by a completely different team.
After gathering our belongings and meeting family and friends for some wonderful congratulatory moments, we boarded the bus (with our amazing driver Penny!) The ride home was a party! Singing! Dancing! Smiling! We rattled out a top-of-your-lungs version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as well as our own version of “Go Broncos Go!” to the tune of the “Go Cubs Go!” World Series Champions! It was a ride I will never forget.
I am so proud of these boys. The effort, the resiliency, the “never-give-up attitude.” It is so impressive and inspiring. I am honored to lead them and cannot wait for the one match remaining… tomorrow night’s STATE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH!
– Conant– Fillingim, Jason (?) — 20th minute
– Conant– Dibek, Harris (Jason Fillingim) — 35th miinute
– Barrington– Orr, Caleb (Enrico Ruffolo) — 41st minute
– Barrington– Pallan, Klaus (Gio Guarnero) — 42nd minute
– Barrington– Pallan, Klaus (Caleb Orr) — 48th minute
– Barrington– Owen, Kyle (Caleb Orr/Klaus Pallan) — 61st minute