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Morgan Dick, Oswego East get past Oswego in regional

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Senior defender Morgan Dick is a hybrid athlete for Oswego East. And she never sits still.

Sure, she’s a standout soccer player who holds the line in back for the Wolves. But she’s also a talented middle-distance runner who has committed to do cross country and track at Kentucky.

One goes naturally with the other.

“Being a runner has definitely helped my conditioning and my ability to play the whole game,” she said of soccer. “I’m trying to be humble about it, but my strength is speed and endurance.

“It’s the fact that I can play the whole game without ever coming out.”

Dick’s aggressive play on defense proved to be the key Wednesday as the Wolves powered to a 2-0 victory over district rival Oswego in a Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game.

It was the seventh straight win for Oswego East (14-6-2), which will play at 5 p.m. Friday against top-seeded Lockport (23-0) for the regional title. The Porters defeated Yorkville 6-0.

Senior forward Anya Gulbrandsen converted a penalty kick in the first half for the Wolves and also assisted on a goal in the 65th minute by sophomore midfielder Gabby McPhee.

But according to junior goalkeeper Maddie McGregor, Dick’s effort at center back was crucial.

“We couldn’t have done this without Morgan in the middle,” McGregor said.

Oswego East's Morgan Dick (right) and Oswego's Jordyn Washington (18) race to the the ball during their Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Lockport.(Jon Cunningham/for The Beacon-News)
Oswego East’s Morgan Dick, right, and Oswego’s Jordyn Washington (18) race to the the ball in a Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / The Beacon-News)

The Wolves also avenged a 2-0 loss on April 23 in Southwest Prairie Conference play against the Panthers (11-9-5).

Dick was instrumental in nullifying the offensive pursuits of Oswego’s top players — sophomore forward Jordyn Washington, senior midfielder Natalie Braun and senior forward Gillian Young.

“Jordyn is fast,” McGregor said. “She is physical and very strong. Morgan is one of the best defenders I’ve ever played with — in club or high school. She’s fast and never has to come out.”

Dick also is an athlete caught between worlds. As her soccer career nears the end, she’s preparing for the next stage. She finished 19th in the Class 3A state cross country meet last fall.

As a junior last spring, she bypassed soccer in favor of running track. She was a member of the Wolves’ 3,200-meter relay team that qualified for state.

Oswego East's Gabby McPhee (7) moves to the ball as Oswego's Aubrey Eirich (left) defends during their Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Lockport.(Jon Cunningham/for The Beacon-News)
Oswego East’s Gabby McPhee (7) moves to the ball as Oswego’s Aubrey Eirich (left) defends in a Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / The Beacon-News)

“When I did my college visit to Kentucky, I just knew that’s where I wanted to do,” Dick said. “I wanted to run, but I also wanted to come out here and finish my soccer season really strong.”

Dick, who has three goals and an assist, was also happy about the shutout. It was the fourth straight for the Wolves and ninth of the season. They are 7-0-1 since losing to Oswego.

The 5-foot-6 Dick continues to use her size, quickness, balance and a different gear.

“I think Morgan is one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever known in my life,” Gulbrandsen said. “Playing defense requires a lot of skill, instinct and hard work.

“A lot of playing defense is about reacting to our mistakes, and you don’t get to dictate the play, you just respond.”

Oswego East's Morgan Dick (10) struggles for position with Oswego's Jordyn Washington (18) as the ball arrives during their Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Lockport.(Jon Cunningham/for The Beacon-News)
Oswego East’s Morgan Dick (10) battles for position against Oswego’s Jordyn Washington (18) in a Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jon Cunningham / The Beacon-News)

Two years ago, Dick started in the middle on defense for the first team in program history to win a regional. She’s ready for this last dance.

”Soccer has been a part of my life since I was very little,” Dick said. “My friends are all part of this team, and we grew up together. I felt like we had unfinished business. I wanted to come back.

“I’m very competitive and I missed the competition.”

In soccer, Dick easily absorbs the contact and punishment and rarely slows down. She also loves the solitude of running, with its purity and grace.

Now, she’s in the best of both worlds.

“This game is notoriously very hard on the body,” Gulbrandsen said. “Morgan runs five miles a day, six days a week. She is just different than most athletes.”

Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.



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