After his team’s scoreless draw against Kaneland, DeKalb coach Phil Rouse thinks his team is under pressure in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference, even though it hasn’t lost a match.
“We put ourselves back in a position where we have to win out,” Rouse said, “but that’s been our mentality the entire year.”
While the Barbs could probably still win the conference with another tie or two or maybe even a loss, they can’t afford many slip-ups the rest of the way. today’s match against Sycamore could go a long way in deciding the conference championship.
“It’s not like winning regionals where you just have to get lucky once or lucky twice. In conference, you have to win 10,” Rouse said. “That’s why winning conference is such a grind.”
T’wolves make statement: Indian Creek didn’t win last week’s Winnebago Tournament, but the Timberwolves made a statement by going undefeated through five matches. The young Indian Creek squad is coming into its own after starting off the season on unstable footing.
“The first few [matches] we were a little shaky,” coach Luke Anderson said. “But now, we’ve been starting to move the ball well as a team and communicate and we’re starting to play possession which I’ve been asking for the whole season.”
The T’wolves have a huge barometer game Thursday when they play at Hinckley-Big Rock, which they tied, 0-0, early in the season. The Royals are the traditional favorite in the rivalry, but Indian Creek has a good chance to win the series this week.
“That’ll be a good test. We’ve been progressing throughout the season,” Anderson said. “Tying them early on was good but we’d definitely like to get the win on Thursday.”
Genoa-Kingston, senior, forward
Schumacher scored three goals in two Big Northern Conference wins against Marengo and Harvard on Friday and Saturday. The Cogs are trying to climb back to .500 in conference play with a small roster, and Schumacher has been huge as G-K battles through injuries.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR...
Sycamore at DeKalb, today, 6 p.m.
This match could have big implications in the conference race, and should be a huge barometer for each team going forward.
Hinckley-Big Rock at Indian Creek, Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
The Timberwolves have been the most surprising team in the area this season, and they'll look to gain supremacy in this rivalry.
1. DeKalb (4-1-2, 4-0-1 NI Big 12) – DeKalb tied Kaneland last week, setting up a huge conference match against Sycamore on Tuesday.
2. Indian Creek (8-2-4) – The Timberwolves make a surge up the power rankings after finishing third at the Winnebago Tournament last week.
3. Sycamore (3-5-1, 2-0-1 Northern Illinois Big 12) – The Spartans had a resounding win over Rochelle but lost twice to Freeport in the Pretzel Cup.
4. Kaneland (4-4-2, 4-1-1 NI Big 12) – The Knights controlled the flow of the match in a scoreless tie against DeKalb last week.
5. Hinckley-Big Rock (8-5-2) – H-BR made a statement by beating Aurora Central Catholic, the top seed in its regional, last week.
6. Genoa-Kingston (6-10, 4-5 Big Northern Conference East) – The Cogs have undergone a rough season of injuries, but they closed out last week with a few big conference wins.
7. Hiawatha (3-2-1) – The Hawks play Christian Liberty Academy today.
VIEWS: A few area teams should win regionals
Luke Anderson was a little bit surprised when he saw that each of the coaches in the Class 1A Genoa-Kingston Regional voted the Timberwolves as the No. 1 seed.
“The girls are just pumped,” Anderson said. “For some of our seniors, who have been playing for Indian Creek for three years and have never progressed very far through regionals or sectionals, Christina Sommerfeld and Sam Meredith, just can't wait for our first regional game.”
Anderson simply isn't used to this type of success during his time at Indian Creek. But after charging out to their best start in years and equalling last year's win total after only 14 matches, the Timberwolves certainly deserve the top seed.
Indian Creek may have been the only area team to secure a No. 1 seed, but they're not the only DeKalb County team I expect to take home a regional plaque.
The Timberwolves' neighbors, Hinckley-Big Rock, have a very good chance to advance out of their regional, which they host, and make it into the sectional, which they also host. The top seed in H-BR's regional is Aurora Central Catholic, which the Royals beat last week.
Sycamore should also have the inside track when they host their regional. The Spartans were relegated to the No. 2 seed after playing the toughest schedule of any team in the area, and Burlington Central was given the top seed. But DeKalb cruised by the Rockets, beating them 4-1 in the Barb Fest championship, so expect Sycamore to give them a run for the regional title.
Hiawatha and Genoa-Kingston play each other for the right to play Indian Creek in the final, assuming the T'wolves make it that far, so an upset could put the Cogs or Hawks through. DeKalb, meanwhile, will have a tough test after moving up to Class 3A this year, but the Barbs are talented, so a win or two in a strong sectional wouldn't be unprecedented.
• Anthony Zilis is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.