GENESEO – Streator’s soccer team was a goal-scoring machine in the regular season, but that wasn’t the case against Dixon on Tuesday night in a Class 2A Geneseo Regional semifinal.
The Dukes limited the Bulldogs to a mere two shots, and were able to take advantage of a few of their opportunities. The result was a 2-0 Dixon win.
Dixon coach Josh Brigl noted his squad’s defense, anchored by all-sectional defender Ethan Fox, kept the Bulldogs bottled up all night.
“We took the ball out of the air, and we worked hard all week on the back line,” Brigl said. “We had film, we studied what they were going to do, so we had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. They scored 106 goals in the regular season and hadn’t been shut out, so that was our goal tonight.”
Streator (19-4-2) managed a few shots from long distance early that came reasonably close to the goal, but Dixon keeper Ryan Pitzer was forced to make just two saves. For Streator coach Jim Muntz, that simply wasn’t enough.
“Offensively, we just didn’t get spread enough,” Muntz said. “We didn’t have enough possession. The first 6 to 7 minutes of the game we had a couple of shots – they weren’t on net, and I think the wind blew them out from being on goal. If we capitalize first, it’s a different story. Dixon took advantage of its chances, and we didn’t get enough quality chances to finish.”
Dixon sophomore Alex Georgiev broke the ice in the game’s seventh minute as he took a nifty crossing pass from Kade Fulton and drove into the lower-left corner of the net. It was his ninth goal this season.
“We’ve been instructing our wingers to take it to the line and play a dangerous ball to the middle, and that’s exactly what Kade did,” Georgiev said. “He played it right to the middle of the box. It was on a platter. I had to make that.”
The second goal for Dixon was courtesy of Boston Glessner in the 23rd minute. He received a pass from James Duet about 20 yards from the Streator goal and was looking to dish it to a teammate.
With nobody open, he executed a few fancy dribbles to shake a Streator defender, and beat Bulldogs keeper Max Baker.
“I looked for a through ball for my center-forward, but I didn’t see him, so I just took the shot,” Glessner said.
Dixon (14-5-2) had the best scoring chances in the second half, but was unable to pad its lead as Baker made a host of spectacular saves.
If the Dukes have those same chances in Saturday’s regional championship game against Geneseo, they will need to capitalize, according to Glessner.
“We’ll be working on that in practice a lot, making sure we finish the balls in the box and put a few away for Geneseo,” Glessner said.
The Maple Leafs (15-4-2) had no difficulty in their semifinal as they blanked Orion 7-0. Geneseo head coach Harvey Morton watched the Dixon-Streator game from the press box and knows his team is in for a tough fight come Saturday.
“They’re very skilled, move the ball well and move it together,” Morton said of Dixon. “They have good offense up top. They’re impressive. It will be a good game for us, absolutely.”
Dixon is seeking its first boys soccer regional title since 2004, and the road to that goes through Geneseo and the host Maple Leafs.
“I’m excited to play them,” Georgiev said. ‘We really want to win this regional, and we’re excited to play them here on Saturday.”
Star of the game: Alex Georgiev, Dixon, 1 goal
Key performers: Boston Glessner, Dixon, 1 goal; Max Baker, Streator, 13 saves
Up next: Class 2A Geneseo Regional championship game, Geneseo vs. Dixon, 3 p.m. Saturday