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Game story: No psyche out, Deerfield dominant at Grayslake Central

By Bill Esbrook, 03/15/24, 11:45AM CDT


Fox posts 2nd-consecutive hat-trick in 4-0 win

GRAYSLAKE -- Deerfield senior Emily Fox says that her favorite subject in school is psychology.

She believes her knowledge of the science, the study of mind and behavior, can be applied to the soccer field.

“Definitely,” said Fox. “Soccer is all about the mental game, so it’s useful for that.”

And so far this season, be it athletically or strategically, the senior is picking up right where she left off last year.

In 2023, Fox scored 29 goals and had nine assists and was a repeat Chicagoland Soccer All-State selection. This season, she’s started out even stronger.

Deerfield has opened the campaign with two consecutive 4-0 victories, and Fox has scored three goals in each.

Earlier in the week, the Warriors, who are ranked 42nd in the Chicagoland Soccer First 50 preseason poll, rolled past Rolling Meadows at home by the count, and host Grayslake Central suffered the same fate Thursday night.

And once again, a hat-trick by Fox.

“She’s amazing,” said Deerfield team manager Talia Joseph. “Emily is a really hard worker and a great teammate.

“Even though she’s so good and is our main goal scorer, she makes sure that everyone else gets their opportunities.”

The beginning of the season has been a bittersweet one for Joseph, a freshman. She was slated to be an outside back on the roster, but a torn ACL suffered in February changed her plans.

Now, although she really would love to be on the pitch, she’s enjoying the camaraderie of the squad in her manager position.

“The team has been very inclusive,” said Joseph, “so it’s great to be here. I’m upset, because I wanted to be out there on the field, but it’s still nice to cheer them on.”

Cold weather made an unappreciated return to Grayslake on Thursday evening. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees in the two hours before game time, to the low 40s with a bitterly cold wind. And although the driving rain stopped just before kickoff, the conditions on the field were, to put it mildly, undesirable.

“Classic Chicago weather,” said Joseph, while Grayslake Central junior Dahlia Rodriguez added that “it was difficult.”

“Everybody was cramping up,” said Rodriguez, “but we just kept pushing through. There’s nothing you can do about the weather.”

The hosts played consistent soccer throughout the contest before succumbing to the firepower of the Warriors. And despite the score, Grayslake Central (0-1-1) dreceived outstanding goaltending from their keeper, freshman Karlee Santner.

Santner made 10 saves, 5 of them off the foot of Fox.

“A game like this is just going to make us better,” said Rodriguez. “They (Deerfield) have some special players, like Emily Fox, and a couple of division one commits. But this is just our second game. We’ve played well with me and Sara (Armstrong, a senior midfielder) really connecting and finding our forwards.

“In the future we’re going to be stronger for our conference games, looking to win our conference (the Northern Lake County) and shooting to do well in regionals.”

No. 47 Grayslake Central started the game between strong Class AA programs on a speedy pace, spending time in the Deerfield end of the field. The Rams took three shots in the first five minutes.

In the 3rd minute Rams freshman forward Lila Hartman had a go.

Hartman stole the ball from a Warriorsd defender at the 20-yard line, turned and sent a screamer toward the goal.

But Deerfield keeper Lauren Gottlieb was able to make a diving stop to keep the Rams off the board.

Then the Warriors settled in.

In the seventh minute, Fox chased down a flare pass by Ryane Emory and beat Santner, who had come off the line, to the ball. Fox deposited the ball into an empty net from 19 yards out to make it 1-0.

Deerfield midfielder Ruby Levy doubled the score eight minutes later. After a shot from teammate Avery Kingsepp bounced off the crossbar, Levy cleaned up the rebound and fired it to the back of the net from dead-center 17 yards away.

“I think that,” Levy said of the goal, “came from our whole front line just moving around and getting defenders off of us.

“Avery took a great shot from just outside the box, but she got unlucky when it hit the crossbar. I was on my toes, ready to get there, and I just saw the opportunity.”

Levy, who is on the Chicagoland Soccer All-State Watch List, keyed the Warriors superior effort in the middle of the field.

The senior will enroll at Tulane this fall, where she’ll play club soccer and study digital media, in the hope of becoming a journalist.

“I fell in love with the school,” she said of the New Orleans university, “and the community.”

Levy said that the Warriors had a difficult time Thursday defending Rodriguez of the Rams, who excelled up and down the field the entire match.

“She’s very good,” said Levy of Rodriguez. “She’s a really speedy, really technical player, so me and our other centerman (Jessie Fisher) had to communicate a lot about who was dropping back.

“We had to make sure we covered that player (Rodriguez) specifically.”

Deerfield took the 2-0 lead into intermission, then made it 3-0 just 23 seconds into the second half.

Fox took possession of the ball and dribbled through traffic toward the Rams goal. She made a 360 spin 25 yards from the net, then glided a shot over Santner into the upper right corner.

Grayslake Central had some chances thereafter, especially by Rodriguez.

The senior made a long run down the field in the 58th minute and sent a blast toward the goal from 35 yards away, but Gottlieb was there to make the save.

Just two minutes later Rodriguez put a free kick right on goal, but Gottlieb was up to the challenge again.

Fox closed out the scoring in the 68th minute on a give-and-go with Levy.

Levy intercepted a pass in the Rams end and went back and forth with Fox. They finished the run with an exquisite pass through traffic to a driving Fox, who finished from 15 yards.

“I saw Ruby with the ball,” said Fox, “and I was looking for a through-pass, a diagonal pass. She put a great ball through, and I just shot it to the corner.”

Gottlieb nearly earned her second-consecutive clean-sheet -- the Deerfield goalkeeper was substituted out with four minutes remaining.

Warriors coach Rich Grady wanted to give some playing time to freshman backup keeper Ava Peiser. It was an emotional moment and Peiser’s first taste of varsity competition.

She ran onto the field to the encouraging cheers of her teammates and didn’t disappoint, making a quality save in the final minute to preserve the shutout.

“Ava is one of our new players,” said Levy, “and it was her first game today, which was awesome. It’s exciting, because this is the first time that we’ve had two goalies on the roster in a couple of years.

“Ava has been really good in practice, and she’s a great asset to the team, socially and playing-wise. It was great to see her get on the field.”

For her part, Peiser was excited, but added that it was a bit stressful coming in after sitting on the cold bench for 76 minutes.

She made the most of the opportunity.

“I just really focused on communicating with my teammates,” said the frosh. “It’s hard for the players to know exactly where their teammates are on the field, so I tried to make sure they knew who they were guarding.

“I really just need to keep practicing, get on the field and get momentum this year.”

Grady added that he’s been very impressed with his team in the first two games.

“I think we are a really deep, talented team,” said Grady. “Obviously Emily is a great attacking talent, but we have a lot of other people with the ability to be dangerous too. It’s a fun group, and I’m looking forward to watching them play.

“We’ve got some new players in the back and it’s very promising how they’ve looked. Three of our four defenders had not started a match before (the season-opener against Rolling Meadows).”

Ava Peiser's senior sister Sophie bolsters the backline with newcomers Samantha Block, Addison Soroka and Addy Margulis. A third Peiser, Ava's twin Vivienne, started the season with the JV squad.

Fox agreed with her coach, saying that “our backline has been really solid.”

“We have a talented team,” added the senior,” so I just look for us to keep growing and keep playing together, because I think we can be really successful. 

“It was a little bit of a sloppy game tonight (due to the windy/rainy conditions), so we just had to work hard, not make any mistakes and focus.”

Grady gave the final word on the weather.

“It’s March in Chicago,” the coach said, “and it wasn’t snowing. So that’s a bonus.”

Starting lineups

GK: Lauren Gottlieb
D: Sophia Peiser
D: Addy Margulis
D: Sam Block
D: Addison Soroka
M: Emily Fox
M: Jessie Fisher
M: Avery Kingsepp
M: Ruby Levy
F: Ryane Emory
F: Leah Cohen

Grayslake Central
GK: Karlee Santner
D: Peyton Hoffman
D: Kate Kruse
D: Avalyn Woods
M: Ava Henne
M: Dahlia Rodriguez
M: Jordan Sutter
M: Sara Armstrong
M: Mallory Barrows
M: Madison Hoffman
F: Lila Hartman

Chicagoland Soccer Player of the Match: Emily Fox, sr., MF, Deerfield

Scoring summary

First half
Deerfield: Fox (Emory), 7'
Deerfield: Levy (Kingsepp), 16'

Second half
Deerfield: Fox (unassisted), 41'
Deerfield: Fox (Levy), 68'