DIXON – The Dixon girls soccer team had to fight through a full pack of Tigers to find some goals.
It took some time, but eventually the Duchesses were able to find some cracks in the Byron defense. The result was a 4-0 victory Thursday afternoon at Sauk Valley Community College.
Dixon senior forward Taylor Harrison was the focus of the Byron defense, and she and her teammates found precious little room to operate. The Tigers had all of their players packed within 25 yards of their goal, and it resulted in the Duchesses trying to work the ball in, only to often find a massive traffic jam. When Byron was able to clear a ball and get it past midfield, a cheer would erupt from its bench players.
Finally, with 20 minutes, 34 seconds left in the first half, Dixon (6-1, 4-0 Big Northern) broke through. A shot from Emma Evans was deflected to Harrison, and she was able to put it away for the game’s first goal.
“It was a loose ball like we’ve had on a couple of corners,” Harrison said. “We have to to capitalize on those. That’s what got us going.”
With 6 minutes to play in the first half, freshman sweeper Katie Drew was instructed to move up into the midfield, to get involved in the offense. Less than a minute later, she found the back of the net from about 20 yards. Drew was excited to have that scoring chance.
“I like to help wherever I can, so when they had me move up, I was happy I could help up there,” Drew said. “When I’m back on defense, I’m glad to be back there, too.”
The Harrison and Drew combination worked in the second half as well. Harrison scored with 27:57 remaining. It was her 23rd goal of the season.
With 5:14 to go, Drew scored her second goal of the game, and the season, as she’s primarily been a defender. Evans assisted on both of Drew’s goals and the first Harrison goal, while the other assist went to Abby Goff.
It was Goff’s 13th assist this season, while Evans now has eight.
Harrison was happy to see Drew get a chance on the offensive side, as there was virtually no action for the Dixon defense. Byron had one shot on goal, by Anika Roush in the first 20 seconds of the second half, and it was easily saved by Dixon keeper Abbie Provo.
“When they’re all on defensive line like that, you have to incorporate some of the center-mids and you have to get other people involved that usually are not in the attack,” Harrison said. “That’s what we did. We got Katie Drew involved. She usually plays defense, and she scored two goals for us. That’s what we were trying to do – get other people involved.”
Dixon coach Mahmoud Etemadi looked at Evans and Goff getting plays started from the outside as the key.
“One of the things we did to open it up was play wide and use our outsides,” Etemadi said. “A lot of balls came from outside, and I think that caught them off-guard.”
For Byron (4-2, 3-1), coach Andy Stavnem looked at the game from a different perspective. His team was likely not going to be successful playing its usual style and a conventional game, so it was all about trying to keep Dixon off the scoreboard.
“We went over the game plan [Wednesday], did a walk-through with it – we were going to put 11 inside our own half and not even go above the center circle the first half to try to hold them to zero,” Stavnem said. “They got kind of a ricochet goal on the first one, and then [Drew] scored their second one, which our whole goal was to not let [Harrison] beat us non-stop like she does everyone else in the conference.
“I’m really proud of the effort. They played the full 80 and held it to 4-0 against a team that normally clocks the opponent within the first 20 minutes or 30 minutes of a game.”