DeKALB – T.J. Vilet connected on a free kick from Ilir Redzepi in the 27th minute, and the DeKalb soccer team snapped a six-game losing streak, beating rival and former conference foe Sycamore, 1-0, on Wednesday.
“It feels like there’s nothing on our backs anymore,” Vilet said of snapping the skid. “Hopefully, we’ll go on a good run. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
DeKalb coach P.J. Hamilton said this stretch of the schedule was designed to be a challenge for the Barbs, to get them ready for the postseason. The Barbs (7-6-3) still have three regular-season games left before opening the Class 3A Guilford Regional against McHenry.
The Barbs didn’t score during the losing streak, but five of the six games were one- or two-goal losses, and the other was 3-0. Three of the losses were in DuPage Valley Conference play, with the final conference game Tuesday at Naperville Central in the regular-season finale.
“Putting together that schedule, that was our ambition – to make sure we’re ready for [the] postseason and have a quality run,” Hamilton said. “I’m very proud of the way we’ve performed the last stretch of games. ... But I think we’ve been playing extremely good, and we’re continually getting better.”
Sycamore coach Dave Bachta said the Spartans (12-5-1) were dealing with a different problem – five of their regular-season conference wins in the Interstate Eight were shutouts with a margin of at least five goals.
It was the second straight 1-0 loss for Sycamore after falling to Kaneland in the I-8 tournament championship Saturday.
“It think where we’re at right now, because of our conference schedule – and those are really good kids, and they work hard – but sometimes during the season, we had it a little too easy,” Bachta said. “So when it goes like that, when you go up against good opponents, you have to do something different to score. And we’ve kind of been stuck in a rut with that the last couple games for sure.”
Hamilton said it was a well-played game on both sides, and Bachta agreed.
“It was a great high school soccer game,” Bachta said. “It went back and forth. Both teams had chances. We had one chance there [but] our defender and goalkeeper had a little bit of a miscommunication. Other than that, I thought the second half, specifically, we played real well.”
Mason McGhee had a couple of scoring chances just miss for the Spartans – including one with 23:05 left in which he split two defenders but missed high.
“Mason had two one-on-one chances with the keeper he’s probably going to be thinking about, at least for a little while,” Bachta said. “And that happens when you’re a forward. All I ask is they are in the right spot at the right time to make those runs, to get those opportunities like he did. It just wasn’t his day to put those in.”
By the numbers: DeKalb outshot Sycamore, 10-6.
Beyond the stats: The Spartans were without defender Isaac Plagakis, who received a red card Saturday against Kaneland.
They said it: “[Plagakis] would have added a different element, we could have played some people in different positions,” Bachta said. “But it gave Jimmy [Romero, junior defender] a chance to play. He would have made the game different, maybe more opportunities, but other than that the result was fine. It could have gone either way.
Up next: Pn Thursday, Sycamore heads to Freeport and the Barbs host Sterling.