Small numbers and a heavy reliance on underclassmen generally isn't a recipe for success in any sport.
For the Dixon girls soccer team, however, it has worked out just fine. Actually, it's worked out great.
With a record of 15-4, the Duchesses have already set a school record for wins in a season. Their previous high-water mark was a 14-7 campaign back in 2010.
Dixon will look to keep its season going in the Class 2A Geneseo Regional. It is seeded third, and will take on No. 2 seed United Township on Tuesday.
The Duchesses have just 15 players on their team, with just six upperclasmen, and the two standouts are freshman forward Lauren Chacon and sophomore forward/midfielder Katie Provo. Their roles are to produce offense, and they've both done it very well.
Chacon has a school-record 32 goals, and possesses the skills necessary to be a top-flight forward.
"She has very good eyes to score goals," Dixon coach Mahmoud Etemadi said. "She finds herself always in the right position at the right time. That's the great asset for any key forward player to score goals, and she has all the elements to be a very good attacking player."
Her running mate up front is Provo, who has 14 goals, and more importantly, 17 assists. Her ability to run the offense is invaluable, according to Etemadi.
"Obviously Lauren has that great appetite to score," Etemadi said, "but that does not take away anything from Katie Provo, who creates a lot of those opportunities."
In soccer, the goal scorers get the headlines, but Etemadi pointed to the rest of the starting unit as the key to the team's success. The midfielders, anchored by 4-year player Caitlin Rozek, and the defense, led by first-year sweeper Kirsten DeArvil, have generally controlled the action and let the Dixon offense do its thing.
"We work better together because we aren't fighting over who's playing where," Rozek said. "We just accept we're playing a certain position, and we play it the best that we can."
DeArvil was a forward as a freshman, but moved to defense to make way for Chacon. She works closely with goalie Carly Hartle (11 shutouts), but has still managed to produce 10 assists and two goals.
"Playing sweeper, you're the last person in front of the goalkeeper," DeArvil said, "and I was really scared. It's totally different from what I did last year. I just had to adjust to playing defense, but I think I got better at it. We all did, in whatever our roles were, and I'm so proud of our team for what we've done so far."
The next step for the Duchesses is to be more competitive against top teams, like Geneseo. The Maple Leafs, the regional's top seed, handled Dixon by a combined score of 11-0 in two games this season.
Part of the battle against squads like that, according to DeArvil, is simply believing Dixon can win.
"We know they're good, and we just get all shaken up," DeArvil said. "We just need to stay calm, stay together, and realize we can play with teams like that."