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Preview story: Snow foolin’! Forecast forces Fenwick/Deerfield into Sunday match

By Bill McLean, 03/31/23, 7:00PM CDT


It was supposed to rain and snow before the 11 a.m. start of Saturday’s previously scheduled Fenwick-Deerfield match in Deerfield.

To sidestep that potential scenario, the coaches got together  and cooked up a Plan B. The squads will now play Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Fenwick’s home field at Priory Park in River Forest.

In a marked contrast to the meteorologists' predictions, the home-and-home series was arranged  more than two years ago in, wait for it,  … Florida.

True story. Fenwick coach Craig Blazer’s son Oscar, now at Duquesne University, and Deerfield coach Rich Grady’s son Ryan, now at Middlebury College, were FC United teammates at the time, vying for the 2021 U20 national championship in the Sunshine State.

“We set it up while watching the boys,” Grady said.

The proud futbol fathers witnessed a title game victory.

Each will seek their first regular-season win against the other. The girls sides settled for a 2-2 tie at Fenwick last spring in what turned out to be a preview to the third place game at the Class AA state tournament in June.

Grady’s crew won the rematch, 3-0.

“I expect chaos (on Saturday morning),” Grady said before the match between the 1-4-1 Friars and his 4-0-0 Warriors — ranked no. 8 in Chicagoland Soccer’s Top 25 — was switched.

His forecast for the game hasn't changed.

“It should be competitive,” Grady said. “Fenwick is a strong program, with a great coaching staff. Craig has an extensive background in the game with FC United and as a former DePaul (University men’s) coach.”

Fenwick lost 11 seniors to graduation last spring and started this season 0-4-1 before downing host University (Chicago) 3-0 on March 30.

“We are in transition,” Blazer said. “However, the girls are coachable, and we have improved from half to half. Our strength right now is how coachable the girls are; that has translated into a hardworking, energetic group.

“We’re looking forward to each half and should be able to learn a lot and continue to develop.”

Deerfield last played on March 22, when its shorthanded crew (injuries and illnesses) defeated visiting Round Lake 7-1. The result upped Deerfield’s four-game goal differential to 14-2.

“Deerfield,” Blazer noted, “is consistently a quality team, with good players and a few really top players. That’s hard to do, but coach Grady has them going once again.”

Junior midfielder and Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Emily Fox and freshman forward Bella Krummenacher pace Deerfield in scoring with three goals apiece. They are followed at two goals by sophomore forward Ryane Emory and sophomore defender/midfielder Lily Hart (two).

Emory has a team-high three assists. That’s one more than Krummenacher, senior forward Dara Carson, junior midfielder Jessie Fisher and senior midfielder Simone Criz.

Warriors junior goalkeeper Lauren Gottlieb has two shutouts and an 0.5 goals-against-average after four matches.

Fenwick’s top offensive threats are junior forward Grace Kapsch (co-captain) and junior midfielders Susie Shank and Fiona Roche (co-captain).

Flashback I: Deerfield fell behind host Fenwick 2-0 in the 2022 regular-season matchup and netted two goals in the final 10 minutes to escape with a stalemate.

“Wild game,” Grady recalled.

Flashback II: Deerfield's Emory scored twice and Fisher once in Deerfield’s 3-0 defeat of Fenwick in the third place match at the AA state tournament last spring.

Each tally was unassisted.

The Warriors’ defense did not allow a single shot-on-goal in front of goalkeeper Lauren Gottlieb.

“It was hard for both teams to bounce back from close (semifinal losses),” Grady said, referring to his side’s 3-2 loss to Benet and Fenwick’s 3-1 loss to eventual state champion Triad.

“I remember it being hot. We wanted to make sure everyone got to play and to finish with a good performance, and we achieved both (aims).”


Deerfield coach Rich Grady, on the health of his team at the end of spring break (March 31): “Still not at full strength due to some lingering injuries and illnesses.” … Fenwick’s Kapsch scored in the Friars' 3-1 loss to Triad in an AA state semifinal last spring.