Team to beat: Abbey Ondrus buries game-winning goal during penalties to give Metea the state championship


Matt Fehrman

The girls’ soccer team poses for group photo at North Central with state trophie after beating Barrington.

Max Berglind, Sports Reporter

Team to beat. A mantra that the coaching staff of the girls’ soccer team embedded into the team culture throughout the 2022 season. An appearance in the state championship changed nothing. A 13-game winning streak going into Saturday’s clash with the Barrington Fillies did not sway the minds of the Mustangs whatsoever.

“They get along really well and were able to do a lot of the things that we like to do and that bond just grew stronger and stronger as the season went on,” head coach Chris Whaley said. “We started to trust each other and it started to show on the field.”

The Mustangs, all postseason, were notorious for taking control of a game right out of the gate. 

In the regional semifinal versus West Aurora, sophomore Lucy Burk and senior Jocie Grabow netted first-half goals in a 5-0 win. In the super-sectional win against Edwardsville, Burk and the team’s leading scorer, junior Tyra King, scored early to give the Mustangs a 2-0 win. This past Friday, Grabow, and King tallied another first-half goal in another 2-0 victory against Lincoln-Way Central to clinch a spot in Saturday’s game. 

The state final would not be one of those games, however.

The first-half defense from both sides was impeccable. A Barrington corner kick that got punched away by Straub at the end of the half kept the score 0-0. 

The second half would provide some exciting moments, with a shot from a Barrington attacker getting tapped onto the crossbar by Straub. 

A few minutes later, freshman Olivia Hernandez split a defender and found Grabow, who barely missed the net. 

Straub came up big again, with a save to end the second half with no score. 

Two ten-minute halves for overtime. Then a penalty shootout. 

The first overtime half, just like the previous two, with neither offense able to muster up a scoring opportunity. 

The second overtime half showed a spark as junior Kaylee Bannack’s throw-in found the foot of King for an open shot. King drew iron, hitting the crossbar. 

The crossbar had been a friend and a foe all night long, and that would not change. 

At the end of the half, senior Addison Wargo lined up for a free kick about 25 yards from the Barrington goal. Her shot also found the crossbar, bouncing over the Fillies’ net. 

After 100 minutes of play, a penalty shootout will decide the state champion. Whichever team has the most after five rounds will win. If it is tied, sudden death will take place.

Barrington will shoot first, and Metea will shoot second.

Barrington’s first shot finds its way past Straub. 1-0.

Lange to shoot first for the Mustangs, no doubt about it. 1-1.

A sprawling save by Straub keeps the shootout tied.

Senior Leanne Barrett is up next, and the Fillie goaltender makes the save. 

Barrington scored in the top of the third, making it 2-1.

Junior Riley Strcic fires it into the top corner, knotting the shootout back up.

Straub, who is never a stranger to the spotlight, steps up and makes a save in the top of the fourth. 

Now Wargo to shoot. She beats the goaltender, but the shot gets enough of the crossbar to maintain the tie.

Barrington pulled ahead with their next shot, 3-2 Fillies, with King up next. 

King blasted it past the Barrington goaltender, moving the shootout to sudden death.

The next Barrington shot trickled past Straub as Edwardsville went ahead once again. 

Grabow up next, needing a goal to keep the game going, aims and fires a shot into the back of the net, 4-4 tie.

The next round followed suit, with Hernandez finding nothing but net, 5-5 tie.

Barrington would hit the right post on their next attempt, granting senior Ella Johnson a chance to win it.

A trailing hand from the Barrington goaltender on the save barely kept the game alive.

The crossbar would finally be Metea’s friend as the next Barrington shot struck iron.

Senior Abbey Ondrus was next up for the Mustangs. 

After seeing no playing time in regulation or overtime, the McKendree commit stepped up to the goalie box.

She took two steps, and Ondrus fired a rocket past the Fillie goaltender, clinching the program’s first state championship. 

“Honestly after I scored, I was so shocked I just froze,” Ondrus said. “It did not hit until [Grabow] hugged me and I was like, Oh my gosh, we just won state, and I just scored the winning goal.”

Ondrus’ first goal of the year could not have come at a better time, becoming the unsung hero in the state championship.

“I mean, right when it happened it was like happy tears,” Wargo said. “Just disbelief and sobbing. It just does not feel real at this point, but it is amazing.”

After seven straight regional championships and nothing more, the Mustangs grabbed their eighth regional championship, then snatched the sectional title from Naperville North. They rode that momentum to wins against Edwardsville, Lincoln-Way Central, and Barrington to win it all.

With a defeat of Edwardsville last Tuesday, Whaley won his 100 game as the head coach of the Mustangs. 

The assistant coaches also hit a milestone, as Josh Robinson and Rachel Bostick added to state championships they won as players at St. Charles in 1996 and Waubonsie Valley in 2008.

“We came up with this thing called TTB earlier this season,” Ondrus said. “It means Team To Beat, and that is who we wanted to be. We want to be the team that everyone fears. We have only ever won regional titles. This year, we wanted it to be something special and to make a difference and go out and win state.”