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THE INSIDER: Prep Soccer

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
Caption
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Jake Dodd (7) and William Crozier (25) race for a loose ball Thursday in the first half of a match at Genoa-Kingston High School. The Cogs shut out the Timberwolves 6-0.

NOTES: Kaneland struggles with keeping leads

Scott Parillo didn't think his team played poorly in a loss to DeKalb and a tie against Morris to start the conference season, but the Kaneland coach saw his team make costly errors in the pair of disappointing results.

“We're actually playing pretty well, but we're just not cleaning up the things that we need to clean up,” Parillo said. “When we score first, we've got to keep that going and not give up the lead. We did play well against DeKalb, we made a couple of big mistakes and that cost us. Against Morris, we did the same thing. We made a costly mistake.”

Work on finishing has been stressed in Kaneland practice recently because Parillo said the Knights haven't been taking advantage of opportunities throughout the season. 

The conference season is still young, so Kaneland will have plenty of time to fix its mistakes. 

“We've got to learn from that, hopefully we will, and hopefully we'll be able to right the ship so to speak,” Parillo said. “I don't think we played bad in either of the games, it's just simple mental mistakes, mental errors that we need to fix and hopefully we'll do that real soon.”

GK defense coming together

Genoa-Kingston outscored Rockford Christian and Richmond-Burton, 6-1, last week, and the Cogs seem to be clicking on both ends of the field heading into one of their toughest matchups of the conference season against Burlington Central this week.

“I thought we played really well offensively and defensively,” Tate said. “I thought the defense came together and has been jelling here lately.”

The Cogs offense has replaced its two key goalscorers from last season with a slew of strong offensive players, and William Crozier's move from defense to midfield has certainly helped. 

In Crozier's place, senior Danny Hansen has emerged as a strong central defender after playing on the outside last season for a defense that has come together nicely in 2013.

“He's improved every year, and this year, he's more our leader on defense,” Tate said. “I think we're pretty much about the same as we were last year … We've had some pretty solid defenders the last couple of years. We've been coming together defensively, knowing where we're supposed to be and how each other plays a little better than we had earlier in the season.”

VIEWS: No doubt, DeKalb is team to beat in the area, NI Big 12 East

DeKalb was always going to be a good team this season, with several starters returning from a team that took home a third straight Northern Illinois Big 12 East championship in 2012.

But when they added Dylan Hottsmith, who played football for three years, and Akim Suraji, an exchange student from Ghana, the Barbs added another element – speed. Kaneland learned just how dangerous the two newcomers are when they combined for three goals and an assist in a 3-1 DeKalb win last Tuesday.

“They've got some speed from Dylan and [Suraji],” Parillo said. “They're very quick. You have to make sure that you keep them in front of you, and you have to make someone else beat you.”

The two new guys have plenty of skill to go along with that speed, but that element has made opposing teams turn their heads.

Last week, I wrote in this space that Hottsmith and Suraji may not win the player of the year award in their first season on the team, but the pair both come to the tip of coaches' tongues when talking about DeKalb. They're both clearly in the mix for the honor.

The Barbs also have plenty of returning talent, including senior Sean Woodford and junior Trevor Freeland, so another level is expected this season from a team who can compete with quality teams in Class 3A.

SPOTLIGHT ON... 

Akim Suraji

DeKalb, senior, midfielder

The quick Ghanaian has been a driving force behind DeKalb's successful start to the season. He had a goal and an assist for DeKalb in a 3-1 win over Kaneland, and he's another weapon on a DeKalb team full of them. 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR... 

Sycamore at DeKalb, 6 p.m. Tuesday 

No matter where the programs are at the moment, this is a matchup to look forward to. The Barbs are the top team in the area, and the Spartans would certainly take pleasure in spoiling the start to their conference season.

Indian Creek at Hiawatha, 4:30 p.m. Thursday

Both teams are looking for a conference win to hang their hat on, so this is a big opportunity for each side.

POWER RANKINGS 

1. DeKalb (6-1, 1-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) – The Barbs topped Kaneland to keep the area's top spot before being rained out against Yorkville.

2. Kaneland (3-3-2, 0-1-1 NI Big 12 East) – Coach Scott Parillo thought his team played well in a loss to DeKalb and a tie against Morris, but the Knights' coach was disappointed with the start to the conference season. 

3. Hinckley-Big Rock (9-3-1, 3-2 Little Ten Conference) – The Royals had a tough time finishing in a 3-2 loss to Newark. 

4. Genoa-Kingston (6-4, 3-1 Big Northern Conference) – This is a big week for the Cogs, who take on Burlington Central, Marengo and Plano.

5. Sycamore (1-3) – The Spartans will play DeKalb and Morris this week. 

6. Indian Creek (1-6, 1-2 LTC) – The Timberwolves are still trying to find the right mix with only a few holdovers from last year's starting 11.

7. Hiawatha (0-3, 0-1 LTC) – The Hawks have a few big LTC matchups in the next week, including one against Indian Creek.

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