SPOTLIGHT ON ...
DeKalb, junior, forward
The speedy forward scored two goals and had two assists last week.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Kaneland at Sycamore, 4:30 p.m. today
The first leg of a home-and-home series could spell doom for one of the teams in the conference race.
DeKalb at Sycamore, 4:30 p.m. Thursday
The two teams meet for the second time and a conference championship could be on the line.
1. DeKalb (10-1-2, 7-0-1 NI Big 12 East): The Barbs were victorious against Sycamore, and they’ll try to take the NI Big 12 East title from the Spartans with a win Thursday.
2. Kaneland (8-4-2, 5-1-1 NI Big 12 East): Strong defense in front of the best goalkeeper in the area make the Knights a tough team to beat.
3. Sycamore (7-9-1, 6-1-1 NI Big 12 East): Spartans have a tough slate this week with two games against Kaneland and one against DeKalb.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (10-6-2): H-BR beat Indian Creek to win the second game of the Route 30 derby.
5. Indian Creek (8-3-4): Timberwolves will see what it’s like to be postseason favorites when they kick off regional.
6. Hiawtha (6-2-1): Hawks closed out the season on a five-game winning streak.
7. Genoa-Kingston (7-11, 5-6 BNC East): Cogs will have a tough opponent in Hiawatha, but could sneak out a regional title.
NOTEBOOK: Frye coming up clutch for DeKalb
The title for the area’s best goalkeeper is locked up by Kaneland junior Jordan Ginther, who will play for Purdue in two years.
But DeKalb coach Phil Rouse said he thinks his goalkeeper, junior Maddie Frye, is right up there with the best in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference. Frye came through with a few big saves against Sycamore to keep the game tied before DeKalb scored a penalty kick to win 1-0.
“It’s hard for me to say we have the best keeper in conference because there’s Jordan Ginther in conference, but darn it, if there’s a 1A and 1B, I’d put Maddie Frye up there any time to make clutch saves,” Rouse said. “She’s come up for this team year-in and year-out. Three years in a row, she’s come up with major saves to keep us in games. She’s a tremendous young lady, she works extra hard in the offseason, and it shows.”
Hiawatha freshmen coming into their own
Hiawatha had plenty of talent entering the season, but the Hawks needed several freshmen to step up and become acclimated with varsity soccer.
Those rookies developed throughout the season, and the Hawks won their past five matches entering the playoffs.
Yulissa Solis has been the Hawks’ leading goal-scorer, Jasmine Ascencio moved from an attacking position to the back-line and Dani Orozco took over the starting goalkeeper spot after a few matches and has performed admirably.
“They’ve continued to be contributors,” Hiawatha coach Kyle Monestero said. “Jasmine I’ve moved to defense, which she’s really adapted to well and has kind of been the core and foundation of our defense. It’s really strengthened us. [Orozco] has really adapted to the game well and she’s been key in some of those shutouts.”
VIEWS: Area teams over-loaded with games late in season
Soccer matches take a physical toll on players, which is why professional teams only play one or two games each week.
Running up and down the field for 80 or 90 minutes, depending on the level, in a contact sport can cause a wide range of injuries, so scheduling a handful of games in a week is considered quite enough at the highest levels of the sport.
But area soccer schedules have looked more like baseball or softball schedules this year.
Because of postponed games, teams have been playing three or four games each week this season. Kaneland and Sycamore play a home-and-home series today and Wednesday this week before the Spartans play DeKalb on Thursday.
Genoa-Kingston will play Burlington Central on Monday before the Cogs host Hiawatha in the regional. An already-thin G-K team could play three matches in four days if it wins in its regional semifinal.
Athletic directors and coaches have done their best when the weather hasn’t cooperated this year, but 14- to 18-year-old kids are being asked to play more games per week than professionals, which isn’t the case in other sports. Football teams play one game a week, just like their pro counterparts. Baseball teams play much less than the 162-game, day-in, day-out grind of the major leagues.
This problem probably won’t be as extreme in future years because there likely won’t be so many postponements, but it seems that pushing the playoffs back one week couldn’t hurt.
That won’t be a cure-all, but injuries might lessen if teams are able to spread their seasons out. Kids shouldn’t have to put their health on the line because the time allotted for a season is too short.
• Anthony Zilis is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at