SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Genoa-Kingston, senior, midfielder
Ortega dished out four assists in G-K’s 7-0 win over Richmond Burton on Thursday as Genoa-Kingston hit the home stretch of the conference season with a pair of blowouts, the other coming against North Boone the day before.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
DeKalb at Sycamore, 4:30 p.m. Thursday
After a disappointing blowout loss the last time the two teams played, Sycamore will have to adjust how they defend DeKalb’s plethora of offensive weapons.
Rockford Christian at Genoa-Kingston, 4:30 p.m. Thursday
The Cogs close out a successful regular season against a tough Rockford Christian team.
1. DeKalb (11-2, 5-0 N. Illinois Big 12 East): The Barbs had a nice week, beating Kaneland on Thursday before taking down Moline, a Class 3A school, on Saturday.
2. Genoa-Kingston (10-6-1, 6-3-1 BNC East): The Cogs had a disappointing result against Burlington Central, but a tie against Harvard, which beat Kaneland, shows they’re the real deal.
3. Kaneland (5-5-3, 2-2-2 NI Big 12 East): The Knights couldn’t quite squeak out a win against DeKalb.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (13-5-1, 5-2 Little Ten): The Royals beat Earlville before losing to Princeton.
5. Sycamore (1-11-1, 0-3-1 NI Big 12 East): A 2-0 loss to Kaneland certainly was an encouraging scoreline for the Spartans.
6. Indian Creek (3-12-1, 2-5 LTC): The Timberwolves beat Paw Paw before dropping two matches.
7. Hiawatha (0-9, 0-7 LTC): The Hawks begin the playoffs Friday against Byron in a regional quarterfinal.
NOTES: Tough schedule preps Knights
Kaneland controlled play and led through most of the first half of last Thursday’s boys soccer match against DeKalb, but the Knights weren’t able to hang on in a 2-1 loss.
Even in defeat, Scott Parillo was fine with how his team competed against a tough Class 3A team.
“They’re a very, very good team, so I think we played well,” the Kaneland coach said. “We were able to control some of the game. I thought the first half we did exceptionally well, but it just wasn’t good enough. Like I told the boys after the game, sometimes your best just isn’t good enough, and [Thursday] was just one of those days.”
Parillo loaded the Knights’ schedule with Class 3A teams this year, and he hopes that helps his team to a similar postseason run like last year’s to a Class 2A sectional final.
“You’ve got to be faster, you’ve got to prepare mentally, you’ve got to be quicker on the field, you’ve got to be a little more physical,” Parillo said. “Hopefully, it will pay dividends. We’re hoping that by scheduling a bunch of 3A schools it will help us in the playoffs. It remains to be seen, but that’s obviously what we’re hoping. It worked out last year. Hopefully, it works out this year.”
Barbs expect adjustments
DeKalb began its second go-around through the Northern Illinois Big 12 East schedule Thursday against Kaneland. After the Knights held the match close throughout by making a few key changes, they know to expect adjustments from teams throughout the final few weeks of the season.
“They definitely pushed back their line so we couldn’t kick it over the top as much, so they definitely made some noticeable adjustments,” midfielder Sean Woodford said. “On the outside, I was getting double-, triple-teamed when I touched the ball, Dylan (Hottsmith) was getting two or three, Akim (Suraji) was. They definitely learned to take out players before they could get enough touches. We definitely had to adjust to that quickly.”
The Barbs have plenty of speed and athleticism up top, but Woodford knows that relying on pace won’t necessarily be enough to make a deep playoff run.
“This was a good wake-up call to show us that we’re going to have to change up some of our game, not just relying on straight speed and get a little more creative in our attack, especially for playoff purposes,” the senior said.
VIEWS: G-K favorite among local teams for deep playoff run
The 2012 Class 1A playoffs were a huge success for area teams, with Hinckley-Big Rock making a run the state semifinals, Genoa-Kingston losing in a sectional final and Hiawatha losing a close regional final to G-K.
Teams found out their playoff matchups last week, and deep runs in Class 1A certainly will be difficult.
Hiawatha will kick off the postseason for area teams when it takes on Byron in the Oregon Regional quarterfinals. If the Hawks win, they’ll have to take on top-seeded Stillman Valley, which has had quite a bit of success over the past few years.
H-BR will have to face Somonauk, which has had its way with area teams, if it beats Serena in its home regional next Tuesday.
G-K has perhaps the best shot at a deep run out of all the area teams.
The Cogs most likely will have to beat two tough teams from Elgin in the regional, Harvest Christian and Westminster Christian. But those matches certainly are winnable at home for the No. 3-seeded Cogs, who will be at home throughout the regional and sectional.
Last week, the Cogs tied Harvard, a top-seeded team in Class 2A, so they certainly will be able to compete in their regional. Even after losing a few key players, this could be a year to remember for the Cogs if they play to their ability.
As H-BR taught us two years ago with an unexpected run to a supersectional, surprises are possible. But right now, I see the Cogs making the deepest run out of any area team.
• Anthony Zilis is contributor for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.