Instinct is second nature for the best players. They also learn through process and experience how to read the field and anticipate moments.
In a crucial moment that saw St. Charles North slice his team’s lead in half, Barrington senior midfielder Austin Grzebieniak made the right read for what turned out to be the game-winning action.
Grzebieniak volleyed home a short rebound in the 54th minute and the host No. 18 Broncos survived the North Stars’ rally for the 3-2 victory in pool play of the Barrington Classic Wednesday night.
On a free kick from 35 yards out, Barrington’s Casey Slingo smashed a curving ball that North Stars’ sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Sabres made a diving stab as his momentum separated the ball and allowed Grzebieniak to pound home the loose ball.
“I saw the rocket shot and knew the rebound was coming,” he said. “I learned from playing with (All-Area) Kendall Stork it is all about rebounds.”
His play took on added significance after the North Stars’ gifted forward Lorenzo Estrada scored his second goal just moments later as the teams traded three goals in just over three minutes. Estrada’s gorgeous header from the service of David Gorniak in the 55th minute ended the scoring.
St. Charles North (3-1-1) suffered its first loss.
The Broncos (3-1) square off against Lake Zurich Friday for the right to play in Saturday’s championship game.
Grzebieniak is one of six returning starters from a 19-win Class 3A supersectional qualifier.
With Grzebieniak and standout senior forward Giles Phillips keying the attack, Barrington has demonstrated early scoring prowess.
The play of Grzebieniak to hold the ball in the middle and the lanky and powerful Phillips’ strength as an outlet, Barrington controlled the early play and seized the 2-0 lead at the break with goals by midfielder Peyton Mohr and a header by Shawn Owen (assisted by Grezebieniak).
“I thought we played well because of Austin,” said Mohr, who scored his second goal of the year in the 10th minute. “He was great in the middle and we could play a ball to him and he could play it back.”
A 1-0 loss against No. 17 Cary-Grove sharpened the team’s resolve. “That loss definitely hit us hard and took us down a notch from our first victory and put us in the right spot and a good mindset for our next couple of games,” Grzebieniak said.