Brandon Jaegitsch leapt and punched the ball over the crossbar at A.C. Bowers Field on Tuesday evening. It was the kind of eye-popping save that could swing momentum in just about any match.
Just not this one. About 10 seconds later, Freeport scored its final goal off the ensuing corner to all but salt away a 3-0 nonconference victory over Dixon.
In the 35th minute, Freeport (1-4-1) junior Conor Greene sent a free kick from near midfield all the way to the target. It would have snuck under the crossbar if not for Jaegitsch’s athleticism and memory bank.
“Last year, Freeport scored [its] first goal on the same play, same shot, but this year Jaegitsch capitalized,” Dixon (0-5-1) coach Mahmoud Etemadi said. “That shows a lot of improvement.”
“You want to make sure you’re staying back on it and not hooking over on the ball,” Jaegitsch said. “It’s easier to run forward than to run back.”
Greene was impressed.
“That was a great save,” he said. “I thought it was going over, but he read the ball real good and made a great save on it.”
But moments later, junior Thomas Greene – no relation – sent a picturesque corner toward the far post where Conor Greene made his run from about 10 yards away and headed it home.
“There’s not much you can do about a perfectly placed ball,” Jaegitsch said.
There wasn’t a lot the keeper could’ve done on any of the Pretzels’ tallies. Their first came on another Greene corner in the 19th minute, banging off three bodies, the last of which was Dixon’s Brendon McCrory, before sneaking into the net.
About 7 minutes later, Tyler Le somehow ran down the ball before it rolled beyond the boundary for a goal kick. He sent a cross that arced higher than it traveled length-wise, finding two Pretzels flying to the ball at the far post. Jaylon Hughes headed it down with authority.
“[Le] hasn’t played much varsity, and plays like that will get him more time,” Freeport coach Nick Namio said. “I thought it was behind the goal from my angle, and for him to keep it in and for us to be able to run under it, that was a pretty goal.”
Both keepers made six saves, Marcus Fitzpatrick posting the clean sheet for Freeport. The Dukes tested him several times in the second half, including three scoring chances between the 46th and 48th minutes.
First, sophomore Connor Carlson’s try from 20 yards out just vanished outside the top right corner of the target. Then McCrory placed a gorgeous ball from near midfield that freshman Remington LeRette was able to reach before Fitzpatrick, but the mid-air header sailed high.
Finally, senior Scott Heath, surrounded by Pretzels in front of the keeper, was able to spin and fire a shot that a defenseman turned aside with Fitzpatrick appearing helpless to stop it at point-blank range.
“I knew if we got one or two goals, we could steal the momentum from them,” Jaegitsch said. “But we just couldn’t get that first goal.”
But the effort was a far cry from that in the first half, which was played almost exlusively on Dixon's end of the field.
“In the second half, we stepped up,” Etemadi said. “We played much better and much more aggressive. We saw a lot of positive things in the second half.”