MORRIS – It almost seemed like the city of Morris was afflicted by the Charlie Brown syndrome Monday afternoon. Getting set to host a girls soccer match between the Redskins and Sycamore in a Northern Illinois Big 12 East contest, a big rain cloud literally seemed to hover overhead of the Morris Community High School football field all match long.
“It was overcast when we left but we did not hit rain until we got about four or five minutes from Route 80, but it really rained here, that’s for sure,” Sycamore coach Dave Lichamer said about the team’s bus ride to Morris.
Oftentimes it rained very hard.
“In that type of torrential downpour, it’s all about who is not going to make the mistakes,” Lichamer said of game-time strategy.
Getting three second-half goals, the Spartans broke a scoreless deadlock at intermission to claim a 3-0 road win.
“We knew that as long as there wasn’t lightning we were going to play,” Morris coach Kristen Porter said. “I was telling the girls that this was their chance to go out, be super-aggressive and to have some fun. It was raining, and I knew it was going to be sloppy. I told them to just have fun and see what we could do.”
What transpired was 40 minutes of scoreless soccer leading up to halftime.
“Really what you have to focus on is the way that the ball is going to be moving on the field,” Lichamer said. “Understanding the skip and understanding if you have to change your game plan a little because there is stuff like pushing forward that is going to be either playing right through or straight to the keeper or even out of bounds.”
Sycamore had only three shots on goal in the first half and Morris two against winning keeper Drew Moulton in the first 40 minutes.
“I thought the first half of the game was great. (Morris keeper) Brooklyn Enger did a great job in goal,” Porter said. “We had a couple of close calls, but the big thing was that we were playing Sycamore. They are one of the top teams in our conference. We came up with a different defensive formation for them that we usually don’t run. So it didn’t give us a lot of offense.”
In addition to playing one of the top teams in the NIB12E, nursing injuries, illnesses and vacation absences also took its toll on Morris in the second half.
“We adjusted our focus a little bit in what we needed to do to get the ball in the net,” Lichamer said. “Making sure we had numbers going forward. That was our biggest adjustment.”
Because of the torrential downpour at halftime, the intermission was shortened to about five minutes before the two teams agreed to resume play.
“It was a pretty short halftime, but coach gave us a pretty good peptalk,” Sycamore’s Alyssa Hemmerich said. “He put it in perspective to us that we needed to get our heads in the game because it was a conference game. He pretty much talked us up and we put our head in the game when we needed to.”
Sycamore got its first goal from Alexis Divita in the 42nd minute, and then Hemmerich scored about eight minutes later. Mallory Wolf then scored the final goal off a rebound shot from Hemmerich.
“The person who crossed it, Rachel Thurwanger, has a pretty good foot, so I knew where it was going to go,” Emmerich said. “It’s happened before. I just tried to put a head on it, and it hit the post. Mallory Wolf was there where she was supposed to be, and it went in the goal.”
Sycamore is 6-1-1 on the season and 2-0-1 in league play. Morris, meanwhile, slips to 3-3-1 this season.