DEKALB – Andrew Bybee can’t wait.
“We just think it’s a good opportunity to play our rival at a great facility,” the DeKalb High School junior said.
His teammate on the Barbs’ soccer team, Cody Varga, agrees.
“We have to come with a lot of intensity,” Varga said. “Sycamore will, too.”
Bybee and Varga were referring to the upcoming soccer match between DeKalb and Sycamore. Rather than playing it at the DHS field, as in the past, this year’s match will be held at Northern Illinois University. Originally scheduled for Oct. 3, the match will be played at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5 instead.
According to DHS head soccer coach Brent McIntosh, this is the first time the two old rivals have met at NIU.
“This is my ninth year here and this is the first time I know of,” he said.
According to DHS Athletic Director Dan Jones, this isn’t the first time the Barbs have played at NIU. Jones said the soccer team once played a Chicago team, but this will be the first time against Sycamore.
McIntosh said officials of the two schools have been talking about doing it for some time, but this was the first time something could be worked out.
“We felt it was our time,” he said.
SHS soccer coach Dave Lichamer feels the same way. Almost every other sport has held a game at an NIU facility, including the annual Castle Challenges for football and basketball. It’s only right that the soccer teams be allowed to do the same.
He also noted that several SHS soccer stars from the past (Brad Horton, Sara Cervenka and Nici Newquist) are already playing on NIU soccer teams, which creates a local connection.
The main reason for the go-ahead, officials from both schools said, was that NIU built a new soccer field last fall. The new field consists of FIFA 2-star quality field turf, rather than grass, which most high schools play on.
“I think it will be a good venue to play,” Lichamer said, adding that “real credos” go to McIntosh for doing most of the work to arrange it. “He made sure things happened this year.”
“It should be exciting to play on a field like that,” Varga said.
SHS Athletic Director Curt Johnansen noted a game on NIU’s field could prepare either team – if they should advance that far – for playing on a similar turf in Naperville, the site of the IHSA state tournament.
The SHS girls’ soccer team worked out at NIU before they went to the state tourney last spring.
“I wish they could get lights,” Johansen mused, adding that NIU could then possibly host high school regionals or sectionals.
Some of the DeKalb players, like Bybee, said they have also played on the NIU field as part of club soccer.
“It’s a big stage for our big rivalry,” Bybee said.
Johansen added that he wonders what will happen next year when the two schools join a new conference, which will have a home and away game with each other.
“Right now, we only play once,” he said.
NIU’s new soccer complex is located west of their football field and east of the Convocation Center.
Jones said tickets for the game will be the same as other high school events: $4 for adults and $2 for seniors and students.
“But parking (at the Convo Center) is free,” he said.