No. 1-ranked Barrington struck early and the Fillies weren’t to be denied Sunday morning, March 19, at the United Center, as Barrington stopped Loyola Academy, 6-0.
The win marks Barrington’s first Illinois High School Girls State Championship since 1997 as the Fillies finished 18-2-5. The Ramblers end 13-8-4 with losses to Barrington in both the state final and the Metro Girls league championship.
Nicole Gorbatenko scored what proved to be the game-winner :39 seconds into the game, drilling a wrist shot from the left side past Loyola goalie Shira Wein into the upper right corner.
The Fillies pushed their lead to 2-0 about five minutes later when Rachel Gorbatenko scored from the left point through a slew of players. Barrington went ahead 3-0 with 3:50 remaining in the second period when Ella Pukala scored into the left side of the net off a drop pass from Julie Duce.
“We played really well in the first period and going up 2-0 in the first gave us the momentum,” Nicole Gorbatenko said. “I was surprised (my shot went in). I was aiming for that (corner) and was happy it went in.”
Barrington head coach Jeff Rajski, in his first season on the Fillies bench, said the Fillies’ early goals were a “perfect start … and I noticed (the Ramblers) on their heels right away.”
Pukala struck again about three minutes into the third period, pushing Barrington’s lead to 4-0. Duce scored at 8:57 from the slot past Loyola goalie Pearl Steinhouse, making it 5-0.
“Barrington is a heckuva team and you can’t give them opportunities,” said Loyola head coach D.J. LaVarre. “One game does not define a season, and this game does not define this team.”
Pukala ended Barrington’s offensive attack – and completed her hat trick – in the final minutes.
“It was a great experience for us. We worked so hard this whole season and proved to everyone that we are the best,” Pukala said. “It was pretty amazing to score a hat trick at the United Center.”
Rajski – in his 12th year coaching, his first at the high school level – said Pukala “is a wonderful kid, so it was great to see her get rewarded,” with the Game MVP honor.
“The girls never quit. We didn’t give them a lot of time with the puck.”
Pukala added, “I think we wanted it more. Scoring on that first shift set the tone and then we finished strong.”