DeKALB – It didn’t matter that the DeKalb soccer team’s 3-0 win against Sycamore was deadlocked for more than 30 minutes, DeKalb coach Brent McIntosh was always confident.
The ball was constantly in the Barbs’ offensive third, and despite the fact they couldn’t break through Sycamore’s defensive shell, McIntosh could tell that this game was different from DeKalb’s (8-2-5, 6-1-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) 2-1 loss to Yorkville just two days earlier.
“I was really pleased with how we came out tonight and responded to a real tough result against Yorkville,” McIntosh said. “We were looking to bounce back and try to get back to a real solid form that we were having, and we did.”
After giving up a goal just two minutes in the last time the two played, the Sycamore (2-11-1, 0-5 NI Big 12) defense held DeKalb scoreless until Cully Hicks broke through with 8:09 remaining in the first half.
“I liked the way that we were patient in the first 40,” McIntosh said. “We felt that the goal was coming, and it did. That relaxed us a little bit, and I was really pleased with our effort.”
In the second half, Hicks sent a looping cross into the box 40 yards from goal that connected with Sean Woodford, who found the lower corner of the goal to double the DeKalb lead.
Misha Ryzhov put the game out of reach with 12:17 remaining in the match, getting past two defenders and beating Sycamore goalkeeper Stephen Benson with a shot to the lower corner.
“They made a lot of player adjustments that helped them out on this field, on this surface,” Hicks said. “We go into every game, and we just try to fight it out. If it doesn’t go the way we want it to, we’ve just got to keep going.”
The Spartans had a few offensive forays in the second half, but they only forced one save out of goalkeeper Matt Allen.
Sycamore Coach Dave Lichamer has seen his young team progress throughout the season, but he saw areas of regression in Saturday’s game.
“We played better here in some respects, but in other areas we struggled certainly,” Sycamore coach Dave Lichamer said. “I’ve seen a more commanding presence on the field from them, and our talk has gotten much better, directing on the field. I’ve talked to them about opening their mouths. They’ve certainly upped their game in that respect.”
With just one conference loss, the Barbs can take the NI Big 12 East Championship with wins against Rochelle and Morris
“Sycamore has had a tough season, but they always come with heart,” McIntosh said. “Obviously their intent was to defend and keep numbers behind the ball, and they played their game plan well. I feel like our form has been very solid over the last three weeks. We’ve put ourselves in position to keep our destiny in our own hands.”