Rematches from the regular season dominate the most interesting subplots in the Class 3A sectionals that begin on Tuesday.
Perhaps the most interesting is Barrington traveling to Rockford Boylan, in the first sectional semifinal. The Fillies administered the Titans' first loss in April with a 1-0 overtime victory on junior Molly Pfeiffer's header in the quarterfinals of the Naperville Invite.
The No. 5 Fillies (17-5) have been one of the great stories this year. After a tough start against a brutal schedule, opening losses against then No. 1 Naperville North and No. 2 Neuqua Valley, Barrington got hot, found a great keeper in freshman Hannah Luedtke, and a deep and talented team ended up winning the West division of the Mid-Suburban League.
They defeated Hersey 1-0 for the MSL Cup, avenging their only conference defeat. Barrington has great incentive to capture their fourth consecutive sectional title. Barrington is the host of the super sectional next week.
Senior defender Samantha Frank is one of the team's emotional leaders. Her corner kick assisted Pfeiffer's game-winner against Boylan. "The beginning of our season was frustrating at times but it helped develop us as a team," she said. "We've learned what it means to be a team. There are no egos."
She is also one of four seniors who knows her high school career is nearing the end. It is likely to be an emotional game for a team that has lost in the supers three consecutive years.
"During the playoffs you never know which 80 minutes could be your last. The time has come for us to work hard and play the game, and we can rest later. As a senior the playoffs can bring a wave of emotions. I am just trying to stay focused on playing my very best and being a good teammate."
Motivation: On the last Friday in April, Naperville Central defeat Lockport 1-0 and Plainfield North routed Metea Valley 4-0.
Last week, the same schools were involved in regional finals, and the Porters stunned the previously No. 2 Redhawks 1-0; Metea Valley, playing on its home field, beat the Tigers by the same score. They meet in one sectional semifinal Wednesday at Naperville North.
The marquee game is the third match this year between No. 2 Naperville North and No. 4 Neuqua Valley. The teams entered the season ranked the top two programs. After Naperville North beat the Wildcats 2-0 on March 21, first-year coach Steve Goletz told Neuqua Valley coach Joe Moreau, "I'm sure we'll see you again."
The two matches at Downers South are both rematches. Top-ranked Loyola beat Maine South in the final game of the regular season. They meet the Hawks again Tuesday, at Niles North. If the seeds hold, Loyola is set for its fourth consecutive state tournament game against rival New Trier.
Loyola beat New Trier 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Pepsi Showdown in April.