Does it drive you nuts when analysts, posed with the question, “Who ya got?”, refuse to pick a pony?
Does that prognosticator sitting on the fence make you think you think you can do his job better?
Me too. Yet, after you read this column, I’ll understand if you want to apply for my job.
When sports editor Dan Woessner asked me who will win tonight’s Class 2A soccer regional clash between Route 2 rivals Sterling and Dixon, I couldn’t give him a straight prediction.
There are a lot of factors to predicting the 4 (Sterling)-5 (Dixon) United Township Regional matchup, but the sum of those parts is good news for you, the soccer fan.
When all the pieces are shaken out, these teams are extremely evenly matched. And for you the not-quite-as-fervent of a soccer fan, there’s more good news:
Tying is not allowed.
Should the match go to kicks, I give the edge to the Duchesses. I really enjoy watching Sterling keeper Callie Sinn. The term “gamer” comes to mind. She’s gritty and, no matter its struggles before this season, expects a lot of her team.
But Sinn lacks something that Hartle has plenty of: height.
“I’m kind of short. I can never get to the tall ones, to be honest,” Sinn said after tying the Duchesses 1-1 on April 30 in Dixon. Freshman phenom Kirsten DeArvil scored Dixon’s lone goal by kissing it off the bottom of the crossbar. “If they’re going to put it off the crossbar, all I can do is get ready for the next one.”
Hartle is 5-foot-9 but plays even taller, thanks to a mighty vertical leap. Simply put, she’s crazy athletic.
But no matter her skills, she’d be hard-pressed to stop Sterling seniors Kaitlyn Bauer and Allie Johnson or another frosh phenom, Rosa Sanchez, should they get behind the defense.
Dixon boasts ample experience on the back line, as does Sterling. In fact, I’ve found myself transfixed by junior Erin Ansusinha and senior Alaina Sanchez and their ability to hang stride-for-stride with strikers who, without the Sterling defender’s discipline, would get to challenge Sinn otherwise unopposed.
Ansusinha did a particularly impressive job with DeArvil in that April 30. But DeArvil wasn’t just nagged by the tenacious defender. She’s also been nursing a pulled muscle. When healthy, she’ll be the most explosive player in the area, the sort of striker who can simply lurk and then outwork the opposition for a 50-50 ball before tickling the twine.
The state of that muscle could be our tipping point. But the thing I stammered to Dan feels like it was the closest thing to making sense: I like Sterling, because of the home-field advantage.
The Golden Warriors outlasted the Duchesses for their first victory in the grudge series, 1-0 on April 11. And no Sterling squad has ever played with this sort of confidence.
The Duchesses have some wonderful seniors, but their crop of freshmen indicates that the best is yet to come.
The Golden Warriors are driven, and this senior class has endured too many not just losing, but borderline terrible seasons, to not finish this exquisite campaign with at least one postseason victory.
You know what? I talked myself into it. Gimme the Golden Warriors, 2-1. No extra kicks. Except for the Sterling fans.