HUNTLEY – It seemed like a matter of when, not if, DeKalb would break the tie against McHenry during Wednesday’s Class 3A Huntley Sectional semifinal.
After erasing a one-goal deficit to tie the score in the second half, DeKalb continuously pressured McHenry’s defense. Yet still tied after two 10-minute overtime periods, McHenry and DeKalb faced off in penalty kicks. McHenry converted all four of its attempts to beat DeKalb, 2-1. The Warriors edged the Barbs, 4-2, in penalty kicks.
“We felt like we had a ton of momentum,” Barbs coach Brent McIntosh said. “We had a desire to score that second goal, and I thought we had some real quality chances throughout the second half. McHenry did an outstanding job of packing it in and forcing us to play from distance.”
Early this season, DeKalb beat McHenry, 6-0, but the Barbs couldn’t replicate that offensive performance. DeKalb (19-3) kept attacking McHenry’s defense, helping the Barbs outshoot the Warriors, 9-3. The Barbs also had 10 corner kicks while the Warriors did not attempt one.
“A Herculean effort by our guys against that team,” McHenry coach Tony Caruso said. “ ... We needed that Herculean, McHenry-style effort and we got it, so we’re happy with it.”
McHenry (13-8-3) employed a bend-but-don’t-break defense most of the match.
However, midway through the second half, DeKalb finally got past McHenry’s defense to score the equalizer. Barbs forward Akim Suraji streaked down the left sideline and his cross found teammate Trevor Freeland in front of the net, and Freeland tucked the ball inside the right post to tie the match at 1.
McHenry took a 1-0 lead at the 19:16 mark of the first half on senior Kyle Marsh’s goal. DeKalb goalkeeper Owen Sawyer (four saves) stopped Marsh’s initial shot, but he fired the rebound into the back of the net to give McHenry the lead.
DeKalb had plenty of chances to score in the first half. The Barbs had five corner kicks in the first 40 minutes but couldn’t convert the opportunities. McHenry senior goalkeeper Frankie Valle did his part to keep the Barbs off the scoreboard, recording four of his 11 saves during the first half.
Twelve minutes into the match, a give-and-go play at the front of the net by DeKalb nearly gave the Barbs the lead, but the shot was off target. Then, when trailing by a goal with 6:15 remaining in the first half, the Barbs were awarded a free kick just outside the box. After McHenry’s wall blocked the shot, Suraji nearly tied the score on the rebound. However, the ball went off the right post. It was a familiar sight for the Barbs, who were just off on connecting shots.