RIVER FOREST — Deerfield and Fenwick played for bronze medals at last year’s Class AA state tournament. Deerfield prevailed 3-0.
Ten months later, in the rematch at Priory Park on Fenwick’s athletic campus Sunday afternoon, both sides showed good fight in a 1-1 draw.
“Good stuff,” Deerfield coach Rich Grady said to Fenwick coach Craig Blazer as they shook hands afterward.
“Good stuff,” Blazer dittoed.
They even tied verbally.
The nonconference game had been scheduled for Saturday morning at Deerfield’s Paul Adams Field. But an ominous weather forecast forced the shift to River Forest on Sunday, which was sunny, windy and a tad chilly.
It was Fenwick’s first home contest of 2023.
Fenwick struck first only two minutes in, getting a lofty, wind-aided goal from junior midfielder Fiona Roche, who had set herself up by intercepting a pass moments earlier.
Roche launched her lengthy shot from wing territory, the ball soaring and traveling slowly for 30 yards before descending far-post above the fingertips of Warriors senior backup goalkeeper Emilie Pietig (four saves).
“Funky goal,” said Deerfield senior back Marissa Siciliano, who played dandy defense in both halves.
Fenwick took advantage when it had the advantage
“We had the wind in the first half, so we knew it would be important to score,” Roche said.
“It was a hopeful play on Fiona’s part,” said Blazer, whose club (1-4-2) is 1-0-2 in its last three matches and 0-1-2 vs. Deerfield in the last 14 months. “The wind helped, fine. I liked how we started. Getting an early goal like that was important.”
Fenwick held its 1-0 lead for 66 minutes. Deerfield (4-0-1), which is ranked no. 8 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, tied the match with 12 minutes left on a 30-yard laser shot off the right foot of junior midfielder Jessie Fisher, who tallied the first goal in the third place contest.
On Sunday, Fisher, positioned outside the top of the 18, received a feed from junior midfielder Avery Kingsepp before notching her third goal of the season.
The ball glanced off the fingertips of freshman keeper Margaret Price, who had relieved junior starting keeper Leah Hyland at the start of the second half.
Roche and Fisher deserved and shared the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor.
“I liked it,” Grady said of Fisher’s rapid shot. “She put it on frame.
“This game,” he added, “was a lot like our game here last year.”
Deerfield fell behind 2-0 to Fenwick last spring before scoring twice in the last 10 minutes. That game ended 2-2.
Hyland (three saves) is a defender when she’s not protecting nets. She wore her no. 88 keeper jersey; she’s a huge fan of Patrick Kane, the former Chicago Blackhawk who was traded and now wears double 8s for the New York Rangers.
Hyland’s field-player number is 10.
“Messi’s number,” Hyland said. “My dad (Grant) recommended it.”
Deerfield junior goalkeeper Lauren Gottlieb’s no. 1 jersey didn’t make the trip to River Forest. But it had a good excuse.
Gottlieb, who is enjoying having a fine early season (0.5 goals-against average), was still on spring break with her family in Spain. Her brother Bradley is studying abroad there.
Deerfield’s midfielders and forwards applied steady heat Sunday. Senior midfielder Simone Criz and junior midfielder Emily Fox, a 2022 Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater, each conducted mini-clinics on dribbling. But the bulk of the Warriors’ shots in the first half were taken from 25-30 yards.
Meanwhile Fenwick junior midfielder Grace Kapsch, kept Deerfield’s backs engaged. Friars junior midfielder Susie Shank delivered a corner kick to Kapsch’s head in the 34th minute. Kapsch nodded the ball north of the goal.
Three minutes later Kapsch chipped a dangerous cross.
“Fenwick has really strong players — players that are able to hold the ball,” Fisher said. “We knew coming in we’d have to have the energy necessary to challenge and stay with Fenwick. We were all into it with our energy from the start.”
Fisher later lauded Siciliano’s defense and communication skills.
Siciliano made a pair of outstanding plays in the 43rd minute, first disrupting a Fenwick rush and then using her footwork and frame to get in between Pietig and a Friar.
The shield move allowed Pietig to scoop up the ball carefree.
Fenwick had to face the occasionally stiff wind in the second half, but the uniform-less force hardly bothered the hosts.
“We had opportunities there in the second half to go up 2-0,” Blazer said. “We played well, stayed organized. Credit Deerfield, which showed quality. We were aware of the challenge. We’re a team in transition, and I mean that in a positive way. We’re learning and growing. It’s a fun group to coach, and they’re coaching themselves.
“After the way we competed today, our girls can realize, ‘We have the potential to be pretty good.’”
Deerfield kept pressing after its goal, beginning with a shot-on-goal by Criz in the 70th minute. Three minutes later Friars senior back Ellie Dvorak came up big with a clear in front of keeper Price (four saves).
A Criz cross to Deerfield sophomore forward Ryane Emory nearly resulted in a goal in minute 76. Fisher, with only about two minutes remaining, dished a pass to Emory. A battle deep in Fenwick’s zone ensued.
Deerfield was awarded a corner.
Hustle and persistence by Fisher earned Deerfield another corner one minute later.
Deerfield had its final chance to break the tie with 47 ticks left, this time on a Fox free kick.
“We weren’t sharp,” Grady admitted. “Maybe that was to be expected since we hadn’t played in 10 days (because of spring break). Today we controlled a lot of the play. We played hard.
“We couldn’t finish.”
Deerfield hosts Mundelein on Monday at 6:45 p.m. and opens Central Suburban League North Division play at Vernon Hills on Thursday at 7 p.m..
Fenwick will face an opponent to be determined at the Body Armor event at Olympic Park in Schaumburg on April 15 at 3:45 p.m.
Deerfield's Grady, on keeper Pietig, who made her varsity debut vs. Fenwick on Sunday afternoon: “She made some plays for us in the second half that allowed us to come away with a tie.” … Fenwick’s Roche has played left back, right back and right wing this spring. She played right wing vs. Deerfield. “Deerfield is a really good team, an amazing team,” she said. “It’s well-coached, with strong players. I liked how we competed against Deerfield. I’m proud of us.” … Deerfield's Siciliano, on her game-day mindset: “Take the ball away any chance I get.”
GK Emilie Pietig
D Marissa Siciliano
D Cassidy Stormoen
D Madeline Stevens
D Sophia Peiser
MF Jessie Fisher
MF Avery Kingsepp
MF Emily Fox
MF Simone Criz
F Ryane Emory
F Bella Krummenacher
GK Leah Hyland
D Lizzie Brunick
D Ellie Dvorak
M Alex Ballinger
MF Susie Shank
MF Gabi Kapusta
MF Mary Brunick
MF Fiona Roche
MF Grace Kapsch
F Lola Martinez
F Kiera Mullarkey
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match: Jessie Fisher, jr., MF, Deerfield; Fiona Roche, jr., MF, Fenwick
Fenwick — Roche (UA), 2’
Deerfield — Fisher (Kingsepp), 68’