Sycamore took the lead 6:19 into its Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference varsity girls soccer match at Morris Tuesday and was never in real danger of losing it.
What happened less than two minutes later in a 3-1 Spartans win created more of a scare than the Redskins offense. Alexis Divita of Sycamore butted heads with Morris defender Cara Cummings, causing a lengthy delay as both players required attention. They both eventually walked back to their respective benches, though Divita was taken by ambulance to Morris Hospital.
Play eventually resumed, and the Spartans built their lead up to 3-0 before Morris freshman Amanda Grant broke through with a goal on a penalty kick with 17:48 remaining. That was the only time the Morris offense, which totaled nine shots, really threatened Sycamore keeper Amanda Cook.
"They're a top-three team in our conference — and we play in a really tough conference," Morris coach Kristen Porter said of the Spartans. "They beat us 7-0 last season. Losing Cara, our starting left-side defender, really hurt. She's a tough player to lose. We had to move Emma Dingbaum, who's a freshman, back to fill in for her, and then that left us short in the middle."
Neither team took a shot until Sycamore's Amy Schroeder scored at the 33:41 mark of the first half. Lauren Miller led Schroeder almost perfectly with a pass that sprung Schroeder to beat Morris keeper Stephanie Wiekert into the upper left corner.
Though Sycamore built a 9-3 lead in total shots by the end of the first half, the score remained unchanged. The Spartans then scored twice in less than seven minutes to sieze control of the match. Miller scored a left-footed goal on a Alyssa Hemmerich assist at the 31:48 mark of the second half, and Hemmerich scored herself with a left-footed kick with 24:49 to play.
Morris answered at the 17:48 mark when a hand ball was called on the Spartans, giving Grant a penalty shot which she lined to the right of a diving Cook.
"I always practice PKs on my own on Saturdays," Grant said. "I just thought, 'I just have to finish her. Just do it how you do it in practice.' I don't stress over PKs because I work on them so much. I always work on them on our J.V. field with my dad."
The Redskins had just one shot on goal from there and a total of six during the match.
"They were double-teaming and triple-teaming Amanda constantly, and that made it difficult for her, and us, to get going," Porter said. "With how thin we were in the middle, we changed to a 4-1-4-1 setup in the second half to try and win some balls and generate some offense.
"Sam Limbach, our middle defender, had a really strong game. She's back there wearing a knee brace and she battled through, did a great job. .. Steph Wiekert made 19 saves, with the three going in. Nineteen saves — that's tremendous. Some of them were really nice saves."