MAPLE PARK – Coach Scott Parillo said the goal for the Kaneland girls soccer team was simple: Try to keep the ball away from Dixon scoring machines Taylor Harrison and Abby Goff.
They failed four times, he said.
Harrison scored three goals to break her own single-season school record, and Goff added one as No. 3-seeded Dixon topped the No. 2 Knights, 4-1, on Friday in a second-round game of the Class 2A Freeport Sectional.
“We wanted to keep the ball out of No. 30 and No. 15′s feet, you know what I mean?” said Parillo, referring to Goff and Harrison. “That was the plan, to make sure they didn’t get the ball, and if they did, we would contain them and not allow them to get around us. And obviously four times that didn’t happen.
“You need to credit them. The four times they needed to finish, they finished. So they’re off to Freeport. And I’m off to my patio, apparently.”
The Knights (14-6) were trying to keep a player marked on Harrison in addition to keeping at least one defender back. It worked for almost a half on Harrison, who connected for the first time in the 36th minute, taking a feed from Goff and speeding past the defense, pushing the shot to the far side for a 2-0 lead.
Goff had broken through three minutes earlier, ripping off a hard grounder to the far side of the net even though she had a defender draped on her.
“It was a great victory, actually,” Dixon coach Mahmoud Etemadi said. “We came in with a lot of respect for Kaneland. They run an outstanding program. We talked about the game, we watched the film, and I think our ladies stepped up and played an outstanding game.”
Harrison needed just three minutes to score in the second half, her 57th of the season, tying the school record she set in 2019. In the 55th minute, she pushed the lead to 4-0 on a counterattack – Madi Schrader had launched a one-timer at Dixon goalkeeper Abbie Provo, but it went wide, and less than 30 seconds later Harrison connected.
“We’re proud of the way we’ve come out day after day,” Harrison said. “We haven’t had the toughest competition in our conference, but we’re proud of the way we played today, and we’ll keep doing that up until our season ends.”
Kaneland got a goal in the 71st minute, working the ball into the box and to Emily Kunzer, who scored to make it 4-1.
“We weren’t trying to get into the box,” Parillo said. “We were settling for 30-yard shots, which we don’t normally do, against a good goalie and a tall goalie. If you’re going to do that, you better be dead-on accurate with your shots. And we weren’t. Then you saw, we finally worked it in, and we scored.”
Parillo said it wasn’t a bad game for the Knights, just a couple of rough plays against a team that took advantage of them.
“Other than a few bad breaks, we played OK,” Parillo said. “We didn’t play poorly. We had a few mental lapses and didn’t stay back when we needed to, and Taylor took advantage of it. She’s a good player. Her and [Goff]. It’s unfortunate; we had a game plan and stuck to it, for the most part. When we didn’t stick to it, they scored.”
Dixon (14-1) moves to a sectional semifinal to face undefeated Freeport, which beat Belvidere North 5-0 on Friday night.
“We know Freeport is a very good team,” Etemadi said. “They have very good players, including one outstanding goalkeeper. And Freeport is running another great program. They are undefeated. Before this subsectional competition, I looked at the bracket and I said the final of the subsection would be between us and Freeport. That was my anticipation. We got there, and we’re looking forward to it.”
For the Knights, their season comes to an end.
“We won conference, which was the main goal,” Parillo said. “We were hoping to go a little farther in the postseason than two games, and we didn’t. I guess we’d all be disappointed about that if we had to say we were disappointed about something. ... But I’m proud of the kids, and just the fact we got to play. You take solace in that, that we got to play this year. We got 20 games in. We’re happy with that.”