DeKALB – The DeKalb soccer team already had plenty of talent to go around entering the 2013 season. With returning Daily Chronicle All-Area first teamer Sean Woodford bolstering an attack that also includes junior Trevor Freeland and several other talented players, the Barbs would have been a tough team with what they had returning.
Then, they added their two starting forwards during the summer, seniors Akim Suraji and Dylan Hottsmith, and they became a whole lot better. The Barbs showed off their offensive depth in a 7-0 win over Sycamore on Tuesday with six different players scoring.
“The past years, we’ve really had only one way to attack,” Freeland said. “This year, it’s nice, we have a lot of different people who can put the ball in the back of the net, and if you’re not on your best game, someone else is, they score and it all goes well for us.”
DeKalb coach Brent McIntosh said he was worried that a week-long layoff would mean rust at the opening whistle on Tuesday, but that wasn’t the case.
Three minutes in, the Barbs (7-1, 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) opened the scoring when a cross from Woodford found Freeland, and the junior tapped the ball into the open goal. Two minutes later, Hottsmith found Woodford, who was able to finish inside the penalty area.
Hottsmith’s turn to add his name to the scoresheet came with just more than 18 minutes left in the half, when Woodford played him through before he slotted his shot home, and Suraji scored two minutes later on a pass from Freeland.
“You could tell right away that everybody on the pitch wanted to be involved, everybody out on the field wanted the ball, you could tell that everybody wanted to be part of the buildup,” McIntosh said. “So I was mostly pleased coming into the first half with the appetite for the game and how we really came out and approached it.”
Stephen Darko scored with just a few minutes to go in the first half off of a pass from Logan Brown before Freeland assisted Suraji’s second goal early in the second. Defender Owen Sawyer closed out the scoring with 29 minutes to play in the second half when he knocked home a rebound on a corner kick.
Sycamore (1-10-1, 0-2-1) could have ended the shutout midway through the first half, but Kendryck Rand’s chip hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced just inches away from the end line.
“I think we got ourselves so built up in our mind that we overplayed,” said Sycamore coach Dave Lichamer. “We knew going in that if you make a mistake, they’re going to jump all over it, they’re going to capitalize on it, and we overplayed and they made us pay for it … Next time we play them, we need to account for their speed. Every spot has speed at it, so it’s going to be tough to try to figure out what we’re going to do to deal with that next time around.”
While the two new guys of top receive plenty of credit, McIntosh knows they couldn’t operate without the team’s strong returning nucleus.
“We had several guys coming back this year that played varsity soccer as sophomores, have won conference championships, have a lot of experience and were going to be a real big nucleus to what we were going to do this year,” McIntosh said. “Adding those peripheral players is obviously going to make us a better team, but those kids who have been on varsity for a while now have really stepped up and have really been the driving force and have really helped out Dylan and Akim assimilate into our team.”