STERLING – Dixon forward Lauren Chacon didn’t know it, but people were talking behind her back.
The Sterling girls soccer team was the culprit, as it talked about ways to defend Chacon before the two teams met Thursday in a Northern Illinois Big-12 West match. The Golden Warriors stressed having a game plan to shut down the Duchesses’ talented freshman because of what she can do with and without the ball.
Chacon dazzles with speed and shifty footwork, and has an innate ability to find the back of the net. Despite the Golden Warriors’ efforts, she did just that in a 3-1 win over host Sterling at Roscoe Eades Stadium.
“We knew which players to pay special attention to, and that’s what our game plan revolved around,” Sterling coach Brian Cebula said.
The two teams played each other recently, on April 12 during the Princeton Invitational. Dixon won 2-0, but Cebula used the match as a platform to glean information about the Duchesses in a rare opportunity to play each other without conference standing implications.
It was then when he noticed he had to incorporate a plan against Chacon.
“We started off playing a shadow defender marking [Chacon],” Cebula said. “It was nice to be able to game-plan for them at the tournament.”
Still, Chacon had a part in each of Dixon’s three goals. She netted two goals, one in each half, and added an assist in the win.
Her first goal came early in the first half, when she broke free of the extra defensive attention with 33:20 remaining and pounded home a loose rebound that teammate Katie Provo initially shot on net.
The goal was part of an offensive wave, as Dixon’s offense controlled the possession early and was able to squeeze off five shots on net in the first before Sterling (5-6-1 overall, 1-2 NIB-12 West) tightened up.
Defenders Emily Thayer and Kalie Conklen shielded goalkeeper Erica Armstrong from facing any more tough shots, and Sterling entered halftime with a manageable 1-0 deficit.
“Sterling dominated much of the first half in the midfield and defensively,” Dixon coach Mahmoud Etemadi said. “We knew they were a good team and have good talent, we just had to block those talents.”
The Duchesses (8-3, 2-1) were able to do that in the second half, as they peppered Armstrong with eight shots on goal. Provo used her electric speed to pressure Sterling’s defenders, and though she didn’t factor into the score sheet, she uncorked four of Dixon’s eight second-half shots.
“Provo was damaging their defense all over the place,” Etemadi said. “We tried to build on what she was doing.”
Dixon opened up a 2-0 lead when Chacon assisted on a Caitlin Rozek goal in the 49th minute.
Natalie Herrera scored for Sterling with 4:43 remaining to cut the deficit to 2-1 and spark the Warriors, but it was short lived, as Rozek and Chacon would hook up again. This time, Rozek assisted on Chacon’s goal with 1:15 left.
“Our goal got us in the game for another few minutes,” Cebula said, “but we weren’t able to respond how we wanted to.”
Dixon 3, Sterling 1
Star of the match: Lauren Chacon, Dixon, 2 goals, 1 assist
Key performers: Caitlin Rozek, Dixon, 1 goal, 1 assist; Natalie Herrera, Sterling, 1 goal
Up next: Sterling at UT tournament, 10 a.m. Saturday; IVC at Dixon, 12:30 p.m. Saturday