canada africa partner reservation Morgan Dick, Oswego East passes Oswego in the region

Morgan Dick, Oswego East passes Oswego in the region

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

Certainly, she is a standout footballer taking charge for the Wolves. But she is also a talented middle-distance runner who has committed to cross country and track and field at Kentucky.

One naturally goes together with the other.

“Being a runner has definitely helped my fitness and my ability to play the whole game,” she said of soccer. “I try to be modest about it, but my strength is speed and endurance.

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

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

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

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

But according to junior goalkeeper Maddie McGregor, Dick’s use at centre-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 for the ball during their Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal 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 for the ball in a Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal 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 negating 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 have ever played with – club or high school. She is fast and never has to come out.”

Dick is also an athlete caught between worlds. Now that her football career is coming to an end, she is preparing for the next phase. She finished 19th in the Class 3A State Cross Country Meet last fall.

Last spring, as a junior, she bypassed football in favor of track. She was part of the Wolves’ 3,200-meter relay team that qualified for state.

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

“When I took my college visit to Kentucky, I just knew I wanted to do this,” Dick said. “I wanted to run, but I also wanted to come here and finish my football season really strong.”

Dick, who has three goals and an assist to his name, was also happy with the shutout. It was the Wolves’ fourth straight and ninth of the season. They are 7-0-1 since the loss to Oswego.

The 6-foot-2 Dick continues to use her size, speed, balance and another 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 game defense is about reacting to our mistakes, and you don’t have to dictate the play, you just react.”

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

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

“Football 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 am very competitive and I missed the competition.”

In football, 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 has the best of both worlds.

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

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