DIXON – The Dixon Duchesses were glad to see keeper Carly Hartle in goal Tuesday against Ottawa. But nobody was happier than Hartle herself, less than 80 hours after fearing her sophomore soccer season might be over.
After leaving Saturday afternoon’s game against Alleman in an ambulance, Hartle was back in the net for the Duchesses against the Pirates. After an initial hiccup, the 5-foot-9, athletic Hartle made six saves – including one on a potential own goal – to lead Dixon to a 2-1 victory, its first conference win.
“I was very relieved [Saturday night] when I found out I just had whiplash,” said Hartle, grinning from ear to ear. “I’ve already had multiple concussions, and I thought I had another one. It was just great to be back out here today, and I’m glad I could help the team win.”
Ottawa (6-4, 1-3 NIB-12 West) struck first, as Emma O’Dell rolled a shot past Hartle, thanks to a funny hop. Hartle looked like she had a bead on the ball, but at the last minute it appeared to take a crazy bounce to her right.
It hopped over her shoulder and rolled into the net, amongst some groans of disbelief by the Dixon faithful over their keeper’s bad luck.
“I tripped, and as soon as I did that, the ball bounced the other way,” Hartle said. “But I wasn’t too worried. I trusted my defense, knew they had my back, and I just shook it off and tried to keep playing my best.”
“We had the ball at their end for 15 minutes, and they get one run at a ball in our end and they convert,” Dixon coach Mahmoud Etemadi said. “At that point, the girls knew they had to pick up the momentum and get that goal back.”
The Duchesses (2-5-1, 1-3) spent most of the first half in Ottawa’s end of the field, but the Pirates repeatedly snuffed out any scoring chances. Keeper Emily Peterson only had to make one save before the break – she finished with five in the match – but the defenders in front of her repeatedly cleared balls in front of the net.
But Dixon kept plugging away. At the 7-minute mark, senior co-captain Erika Taylor centered a pass into the Ottawa box. After bouncing around for a few seconds, the ball found the foot of Duchesses junior Caitlin Rozek, who was wide open in front of the goal.
Rozek beat Peterson into the lower left-hand corner of the net with the equalizer.
“I was really surprised I was that open,” Rozek said. “The coaches stress to us to follow the ball, so I went for it as soon as I saw it bouncing there.
“After that goal, it seemed like we all calmed down and started controlling things better and taking more shots.”
The Duchesses took the lead less than 6 minutes later. An Ottawa hand ball was called in the box, and Taylor stepped up to take the penalty kick. Looking right all the way, she ripped a shot into the same lower left-hand corner as Rozek for a 2-1 margin.
“I just tried to look to the opposite corner, to confuse her as much as possible,” Taylor said. “I wanted to make sure I scored, because a couple of games ago, I had a penalty kick and I missed. I didn’t want to let that happen again, so I blocked everything out and just tried to make good contact.”
Dixon turned that go-ahead goal into some newfound confidence. Coming out with a defense-first mentality after halftime, the Duchesses only allowed the Pirates a few decent scoring chances, and promptly thwarted those when they did come along.
They also stayed aggressive, keeping the pressure on Ottawa by making several strong offensive runs and putting Peterson on the spot. Nine of Dixon’s 16 shots were on goal, compared to six of 15 for the Pirates.
“The girls came into this game wanting to win, no matter what,” Etemadi said. “They said, ‘This is our night,’ and they didn’t let anything spoil it. Even getting behind early, the girls stepped up, came back and put pressure on Ottawa and got the win.”
Dixon 2, Ottawa 1
Star of the match: Erika Taylor, Dixon, goal, assist
Key performers: Carly Hartle, Dixon, 6 saves on 6 shots; Caitlin Rozek, Dixon, goal; Emily Peterson, Ottawa, 5 saves on 9 shots; Emma O’Dell, Ottawa, goal
Up next: Indian Creek at Dixon, 4:30 p.m.