SYCAMORE – Wednesday’s soccer match between Dixon and Sycamore was a battle of teams looking for their first win of the season.
It was the home team that found what it was searching for. Behind their relentless attack, the Spartans (1-3-0) grabbed a 2-1 victory over Dixon (0-4-1) in their home opener.
Junior Jacob Bassett and senior Tanner Yohe scored for Sycamore, which is halfway to its win total from 2012. Bassett was happy with the performance, but disappointed about missed chances.
“I think we did pretty well,” he said. “We could’ve finished a lot more goals than we did, but overall, it was good.”
Bassett was a big reason for the positive outcome right from the start. Normally a defender, he spent most of the match in midfield attacking and creating chances for his teammates.
But with 14 minutes left in the first half, he went with the solo effort rather than setting up teammates. Sycamore earned a free kick from the right side, about 35 yards from goal, and Bassett jogged over to take it, unsure of whether to go for a cross or a shot.
“I looked back at coach [Dave Lichamer], and he didn’t say anything,” Bassett said, “and then I saw the opening.”
He teed it up, took the shot, and watched it soar over the outstretched arms of Dukes goalkeeper Brandon Jagitsch into the top left corner. The spectacular finish gave the Spartans the lead, but it also made Dixon more hungry.
The Dukes began to attack more, and it eventually paid off when Reid Deets found the back of the net six minutes before halftime. Sycamore freshman Austin Mereness nearly grabbed the lead back on a breakaway, but his chip went wide left and the teams went into the half tied, 1-1.
After the break, the Spartans came out with more energy. Lichamer credited the smooth substitutions with keeping his team from getting fatigued.
One of the major energy sources was senior midfielder Kendryck Rand. He nearly caught Jagitsch out of position with a steal and 30-yard blast that went just wide right. While that was his best scoring chance, he was active throughout the match.
“It’s really hard to get him off the ball,” Lichamer. “He has some great touches just in space, not necessarily quick touches, but he has some great moves around the ball to open space for himself.”
Bassett and Rand in midfield kept the Spartans pushing up, and with less than 14 minutes left, it paid off. Bassett’s corner kick led to a scrum in the box, and a quick forward header found senior Tanner Yohe wide open to slot it past Jagitsch and into the net. Sycamore celebrated, while Dixon protested for an offside flag that never came.
With the help of Bassett moving back to his former position, the Spartans were able to hold off Dixon for the rest of the match. Lichamer told his team he was proud of its performance, and it didn’t hurt to have the home-field advantage.
“We were playing on a nice field, no crazy bounces, so that helps our game in terms of control of the ball,” Lichamer said. “Home field is always good.”