SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Hinckley-Big Rock, sophomore, forward
Madden assisted Lauren Paver twice in Saturday’s 3-1 Barb Fest win over Mendota. Madden was named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Andrea Binkley after the Royals’ fifth-place finish.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Kaneland at DeKalb, 6 p.m. Wednesday
DeKalb beat Kaneland star goalkeeper Jordan Ginther once when they visited the Knights a few weeks ago. They can make headway in the Northern Illinois Big 12 race with another win.
Princeton at Hinckley-Big Rock, 4:30 p.m. Thursday
After enduring a tough field of teams at Barb Fest, the Royals will look to continue their strong run against smaller schools this season.
1. DeKalb (4-1-1, 3-0 Northern Illinois Big 12): DeKalb won its fourth consecutive Barb Fest championship over the weekend, only allowing one goal in four matches.
2. Sycamore (1-4-1, 0-0-1 NI Big 12): The Spartans have a few NI Big 12 East matchups this week, and will have a shot to take over the top spot next week.
3. Kaneland (3-4-1, 1-1 NI Big 12): The Knights had another tough match when they played Geneva last week and lost 1-0.
4. Indian Creek (4-1-2): The Timberwolves held DeKalb scoreless in the first half of their 2-0 loss at Barb Fest.
5. Hinckley-Big Rock (6-4-2): H-BR finished fifth at Barb Fest, beating Mendota and Rochelle on the second weekend.
6. Genoa-Kingston (3-8, 1-5 Big Northern East): We’ll see how the small but talented Cogs fare down the stretch.
7. Hiawatha (0-1): The Hawks play a couple of nonconference matches this week.
NOTEBOOK: Beaty showing more conﬁdence
Twice during DeKalb’s 4-1 Barb Fest championship win over Burlington Central on Saturday, junior Morgan Beaty received the ball at the top of the box, weaved her way through defenders and scored.
That ability to take on defenders has always been there, but the confidence to do it is something new.
“I wouldn’t have done that my freshman year or sophomore year. I’ve just tried to get more confidence taking people on,” Beaty said. “That’s what I need to work on, and I knew that coming into the season.”
Coach Phil Rouse knew Beaty had the kind of skill to break down defenders like she did Saturday, but she finally is producing to her potential after battling through injuries her first two seasons.
“It was just a matter of keeping her healthy,” Rouse said. “She still carries some bumps and bruises, but you see kids grow and change. The amount of work she puts in during the offense is what really puts her over the edge. She’s only going to keep getting better.”
Diehl big for IC
If Indian Creek was going to stay with DeKalb during a 2-0 loss Saturday, freshman goalkeeper Josie Diehl was going to have to have a big performance.
For almost the entire match, Diehl was equal to DeKalb’s offense, which peppered Indian Creek’s goal with shots. The Barbs finally broke through with two goals in the second half, but Diehl was big all match as she has been for the entire season, when she’s worked with the Timberwolves’ boys’ goalkeeper, all-area senior Aaron Bolton.
“She’s doing great,” coach Luke Anderson said. “The first couple of games she was nervous, obviously, never having played goalie at the high school level. She’s been working with our goalie on the boys team and he’s really helped her out a lot. She’s really been stepping up and playing really well in these big games.”
VIEWS: Title or not, Barbs and Spartans beneﬁt
DeKalb and Sycamore raised some interesting questions in the past few weeks with the quality of opponents in the tournaments each school played in.
The Barbs won their fourth straight Barb Fest on Saturday, allowing only one goal and scoring 19 in four matches. They beat a tough Burlington Central team in the final, and also beat up on a few weaker teams.
Sycamore, meanwhile, lost every match it played in the Pepsi Showdown. The Spartans were one of the smaller teams in the tournament, and they played against some highly skilled opponents.
Both situations definitely have their benefits and their drawbacks. DeKalb is riding high after its championship. The Barbs are used to the feeling of winning, which can become contagious. But they also didn’t gain any experience against the caliber of teams they’ll face when the postseason comes up.
Obviously, the opposite is true for the Spartans. But as long as the Spartans don’t become discouraged, I think they’ll benefit in the long term from playing against bigger opponents who play a much quicker game.
If one situation has a more positive effect, we may see it when the teams match up next week. With Sycamore losing plenty of talent to graduation and DeKalb bringing back the bulk of its roster, DeKalb has a chance to turn this rivalry around.
But they might have to prepare for the quicker pace of play that Sycamore now has become used to.
• Anthony Zilis is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.