MAPLE PARK – The Kaneland Knights didn’t possess the ball much against the Sycamore Spartans, but they only needed 18 seconds to notch a 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 win.
The Knights (3-6, 2-1 NIB 12) came out eager to get back in the win column after suffering a 5-1 conference loss to DeKalb this week and pushed the ball into the offensive zone early.
“Obviously, it feels good,” Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. “It’s just that we don’t know which team is showing up. The one that was at DeKalb, or the one that was here today. We jumped on them early, and that’s what we needed to do, so I’m happy.”
[Photos by Mark Busch – firstname.lastname@example.org]
After two early misses by the Knights, Kaneland midfielder Alex Dhom opened up the scoring by turning a pass from Tucker Jahns into a breakaway and pushing it past a diving Sycamore goalkeeper in the 13th minute of the first half.
“It felt great,” Dhom said. “I figured I’d use my speed. Tucker gave me a good ball. It wasn’t a great shot, but it went in. It was my first goal of the season. It felt good to get an early lead on [Sycamore].”
Jahns followed the first goal by stealing a backward pass from the Spartans and then sliced his way through the Sycamore defense, firing a shot into the back of the net 18 seconds later.
“We fell asleep, to be honest with you,” Sycamore coach David Bachta said. “That can’t happen. We have too many seniors. You can’t play a ball backward and fall asleep and expect [Jahns] not to score.”
After falling down, 2-0, the Spartans’ offense woke up and put the pressure on the Knights the rest of the game, but couldn’t put the ball into the net.
Kaneland goalkeeper Maison Kerl kept Sycamore off the scoreboard despite being under pressure most of the rest of the game. Kerl finished the game with 10 saves, including a diving stop on a Spartans breakaway.
“We had to hang on,” Parillo said. “We had to hang on for dear life.”
Sycamore (4-5-1, 1-2) had its chances to score but couldn’t get the ball in the net, shooting wide four times and over the goal once.
“I thought for about 60 minutes of the game we played fine,” Bachta said. “We got our opportunities. In the second half, the ball stayed on our half of the field almost the entire time. We just didn’t finish.”
By the numbers: Jahns had one assist to go along with his goal.
Beyond the stats: After shooting two early shots off the posts Tuesday against DeKalb, Kaneland fired another shot off the crossbar in the first minutes of the game today, as well.
They said it: “Again,” Parillo said. “Here we go again. It’s DeKalb all over again. If we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. Eventually we had a couple go in, and that was cool.”
Up next: Sycamore plays Belvidere North at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Hononegah Indian Cup at Sportscore One in Rockford. Kaneland travels to Milton, Wisconsin, for a tournament at 4 p.m. Friday.