STERLING – Sterling needed a perfect performance to knock off the unbeaten Sycamore Spartans, but perfection was something the Golden Warriors ran into Thursday.
Sycamore hasn’t lost a soccer match this year, and Sterling saw just how perfect the Spartans were in a Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover match at Roscoe Eades Stadium. Whether it was in the form of timely passing, coming away with 50-50 balls, or controlling the field, Sycamore was simply too much for the Golden Warriors to handle in a 6-0 loss.
For the second time in 8 days, the Golden Warriors (10-6-1, 3-2 NIB-12) were held shotless – just as they were against Geneseo in a 1-0 home loss. However, the Spartans (8-0-3, 3-0) found plenty of open looks early on.
Spartans sophomore Saydie Holland punched through three of those holes for a hat trick in the first 25 minutes, 2 seconds.
“It was a little different than some of the other games we’ve played against pretty powerful schools,” Sterling coach Brian Cebula said. “We let up a couple of goals early, which can do a lot to your mental demeanor throughout the rest of the game.”
The Golden Warriors played much of the game without lead forward Fatima Gallardo, who went down in the 22nd minute with an injury. Many Sterling forwards spent a lot of time in the midfield throughout the match, as the Warriors weren’t able to get many balls forward.
Only once did Sterling get momentum going for a scoring opportunity, which came with 3:30 to play, but it turned the ball over near the right corner.
“One of their goals was to continue playing with as much intensity as they could,” Cebula said. “I think they did. It could have been easy to come into the second half down 5-0 and stop playing. They never quit. They worked hard and stayed engaged in the game.”
Sycamore collected 23 total shots, and 17 of them were on target. All but one of the Spartans’ 13 first-half shots were on goal, as they had little trouble at all, from forwards to defenders.
“All parts of the field – there’s no one that should be left out of the fact that this was an 11-person effort on the field,” Sycamore coach David Lichamer said. “We controlled the ball, we controlled the game play, our passing was spot-on, our 50-50s, our touches, everything was just stellar today.”
Holland had goals in the sixth, 10th, and 22nd minutes to get off to a 3-0 lead. Jenna Lewey, Taylor Meier and Jessica Morreale had assists on those goals.
“One of our biggest struggles has been starting the game strong,” Holland said. “We all wanted to come out and be strong. We were able to string balls through, and that was really the first time all season we’ve been able to do that.”
Cali Carl added a 37-yard blast that dropped in near the crossbar with 31:01 gone for a 4-0 lead, and Kierah Meier ended the half with a deflection off her hip from 3 yards out for a 5-0 lead at half.
Taylor Meier capped the scoring with an unassisted 13-yard blast.
“We really wanted to have a strong win going into the state seeding [Thursday],” Holland said. “We’re really happy with the way the score turned out.”
Tiara Munoz stopped 10 shots in goal for Sterling, and Zoe Ward added a defender save in the first half. Sterling also spoiled all six of Sycamore’s corner kicks.
Sycamore 6, Sterling 0
Star of the game: Saydie Holland, Sycamore, hat trick in first half
Key performers: Cali Carl, Kierah Meier, and Taylor Meier, Sycamore, 1 goal each; Tiara Munoz, Sterling, 10 saves
Up next: DeKalb Barbfest, Sterling vs. Grayslake North/Yorkville loser, 10:30 Saturday