DeKALB – Beating Sycamore is always special for the DeKalb girls soccer team. But the Barbs felt a little extra satisfaction after a 1-0 victory Tuesday.
The Spartans beat out DeKalb (9-1-2, 5-0-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) for a conference title last season before squeaking out a regional championship win on DeKalb’s field, so the revenge felt nice after the Barbs took the driver’s seat in the race for the conference title.
“They got us twice on our field last year, for a conference championship and for a regional championship, so we really wanted this one,” DeKalb coach Phil Rouse said. “It was just a tremendous team effort.”
Abby Hickey’s penalty kick goal in the 49th minute, which was the result of a controversial call, turned the tide in the rivalry and changed the dynamic of the game.
A hard-fought, even game, turned into a race against the clock for Sycamore (6-9-1, 3-1-1 NI Big 12 East) and gave DeKalb plenty of confidence after a tough first half.
“I think it shifted how we approached the game after that,” Sycamore coach Dave Lichamer said. “We tried to kick it and kick it and kick it. We were a little flustered, I think, because we needed to get one back.”
The Spartans had a majority of the chances early, when they were going with a strong wind.
Perhaps the best Sycamore chance of the day came in the 25th minute, when Katherine Kohler curled a left-footed free kick toward goal, but DeKalb goalkeeper Maddie Frye made a diving save.
“I knew she had a really strong left foot, so I knew she was going to be curving it in and I had to get in position quick,” Frye said. “I saw it and I could read it.”
DeKalb began to control more of the run of play when they went with the wind in the second half. Morgan Beaty nearly put DeKalb on the board in the 47th minute when she beat her defender to put herself one-on-one with Sycamore goalkeeper Amanda Cook, but her shot went just wide.
Cook came up big a few times in the second half, but Hickey was able to beat her with a hard shot off of a penalty kick to score the game’s only goal.
The win made DeKalb the top team in the conference with four games left.
“It’s win [number] five and we’ve got nine to get, that’s our goal, to get nine,” Rouse said. “It’s a big win mentally for us to play against a solid squad in conference.”