Sometimes coaches are a bit sheepish about bringing freshmen up to play varsity sports.
Dixon girls soccer coach Mahmoud Etemadi, however, had no qualms about playing then-freshmen Katie Provo and Kirsten DeArvil last spring, and the move paid off. They combined for 16 goals and 11 assists, helping the Duchesses nearly climb above the .500 mark with a 7-8-2 record.
“Katie and Kirsten were both skilled soccer players coming into high school, and it was just a matter of getting used to playing at that level,” Etemadi said. “They both played very well.”
That’s not to say there weren’t butterflies involved.
“I was really nervous as a freshman, but I’m more comfortable now,” Provo said. “I think I’ll be able to perform better in the early games, and get more comfortable later.”
Provo was a fixture at forward for the Duchesses, and she amassed 10 goals and four assists. Her shining moment was in the postseason opener, when she scored the lone goal of the game in a victory against Sterling. She remembers it like it was yesterday.
“Cristen Rozek passed it to me, and then I took it up and dribbled it between two of the Sterling defenders,” Provo said. “I got a quick shot off, and it just went past the goalie’s hands. I was so excited.”
Provo will be counted on again to be a goal producer for the Duchesses. She honed her skills in the offseason playing for the Sterling United traveling team, in the DeKalb winter league, and various summer tournaments.
“I think I can get it done,” Provo said. “I’ve been practicing a lot on my shot.”
DeArvil was a jack-of-all-trades for the Duchesses, and she was comfortable bouncing around various positions.
“I can pretty much play anywhere,” DeArvil said. “I played goalie twice last year, which was kind of weird because I don’t play goalie. It was interesting.”
The tentative plan for this season is to have DeArvil primarily as a center-midfielder, where she will be the first line of defense, and also set up the likes of Provo.
“I need to place the ball for Katie so she can get a shot off,” DeArvil said. “I’ve been working on my long crosses, so hopefully she can knock a few goals in there.”
DeArvil’s older sister, Allison, was a standout for the Duchesses, and currently plays at Monmouth College. Kirsten noted she learned some valuable skills from her sister.
“She definitely increased my speed a lot, put more control on the ball,” DeArvil said, “and taught me some moves so I can get around defenders, which helps in games.”
The Duchesses have 19 players in the high school program this season, down from 35 a year ago. The lack of number resulted in the cancellation of JV games this season, but the team is still planning on a successful season.
“We have less girls than we did last year,” Provo said, “but I think we can do it if we try really hard.”
FYI: Scored 10 goals and had four assists as a freshman. ... Scored only goal in regional win against Sterling. ... Younger sister Elizabeth is also on Dixon squad
FYI: Score six goals and had seven assists as a freshman. ... Played multiple positions, including goalie, a year ago. ... Older sister Allison was star for Duchesses and now plays at Monmouth College