OREGON – It took more than a half for the Dixon boys soccer team to break down the packed-in defense of the Oregon Hawks on Tuesday at Oregon Park West.
Once the Dukes found a way through, they scored three second-half goals to beat the Hawks 3-1 in a Big Northern Conference matchup.
Both teams had plenty of chances before the Dukes finally broke through in the 46th minute. After a Boston Glessner shot had been punched off the post and out by Hawks goalkeeper Owen Ketter, Glessner sent the impending corner kick into the mix of players in front of the Oregon net and Graesen Blumhoff put it into the back of the net.
“We were tired and I had fresh legs, so I came out expecting to win that ball and I came out hungry to win that ball,” Blumhoff said. “It came by, I ran down the line, and I just tried crossing it and ended up knocking it in.”
Dixon (6-1-1, 5-0 Big Northern Conference) added a second goal in the 57th minute. Ketter initially stopped shots by Kade Fulton and Glessner before Luis Xique got to the rebound.
“When Kade shot that ball, and then Boston, I just saw him getting ready to shoot, so I snuck to the left,” Xique said. “When the goalkeeper blocked it, I just saw it coming my way and kicked it in.”
Oregon (5-5, 1-2 BNC) got a goal back in the 60th minute when Josh Sitze scored from 25 yards out, putting a ball into the upper corner of the net.
“I was going down the line and I got a pass from Liam [Dickson-Harriett],” Sitze said. “He gave me a beautiful pass, and I originally was going to look for the center, and I cut back to the top of the box and just ripped it from the outside corner of the 18 [yard box].”
That was the first goal Dixon has allowed in conference play all season, having previously shut out Winnebago, Stillman Valley, Rockford Lutheran and Rockford Christian, and just the third goal overall. The Dukes allowed two goals in a tie with Jefferson at the Auburn Invitational on August 31.
The Hawks had a handful of other chances. Alvero Soler’s corner kick 3 minutes later was cleared out by the defense of Ethan Fox and Noah Grot. Soler also had a long shot in the 67th minute that was saved. Sitze had a long shot in the 69th minute that sailed over the crossbar. Joey Gelander was denied in the 74th minute by Dixon goalkeeper Ryan Pitzer, and Grant Cermak was denied off the ensuing corner.
Kade Fulton was able to put the game away for the Dukes in the 63rd minute with a goal.
Three Dixon goals in the second half came after a first half in which the Dukes could not break through against a strong Oregon backline.
“In the first half, they were what we call ‘parking the bus’ where they kept people back instead of bringing people up in their attack,” Blumhoff said. “In the second half, I came on and I just went at it. I knew we had to get after them. We had to get a goal on them because if they had gotten a goal, they would have parked it even more.”
Ketter was able to deny Bradyn Langloss in the sixth minute, then deny Fulton in the seventh on a Dukes’ counterattack. He also made a save against Fulton in the 22nd minute.
“He’s improved since last year, and he was an all-conference honorable mention,” Oregon coach Seger Larson said. “There was one sequence where he made three saves right in a row and our defense couldn’t clear it out.”
Both teams had first-half chances they could not convert. Gelander had a chance on a two-on-one break in the 36th minute, but sent the shot over the crossbar. That was moments after Langloss had put one over the bar on the other end.
Oregon’s defense, which had allowed 12 goals in three matches heading into Tuesday in losses to Rockford East, Mendota and Earlville, held Dixon at bay for 40 minutes.
“They played together instead of more individually,” Larson said. “Sometimes when we’ve gotten beat, it’s one-on-one, and [Tuesday] they played more as a unit.”
The Hawks often used five players back, with Tyler Vegliando, Alan Acosta, Arnau Fastenrath, Dickson-Harriett and Cermak.
“They stayed in the middle of the field pretty well,” Dixon coach Josh Brigl said. “We had trouble finding the final ball, and that’s what our focus was at halftime, was how are we going to find the final ball, and I think we kind of floated balls across the box and they didn’t have as much purpose or intent, and the goal was to pick somebody out once we got into the final third. Or isolate Kade or Boston on the outside to go one-on-one and get those shots and crash was our objective, and ultimately that got us two of those three goals.”
Dixon 3, Oregon 1
Star of the game: Luis Xique, Dixon, 1 goal
Key performers: Owen Ketter, Oregon, 11 saves; Josh Sitze, Oregon, 1 goal; Kade Fulton, Dixon, 1 goal; Graesen Blumhoff, Dixon, 1 goal
Up next: North Boone at Dixon, 4:30 p.m. Thursday; Oregon at Winnebago, 4:30 p.m. Thursday