A youth movement started a year ago by Deerfield High School field hockey Coach Stacy Wood has turned into a young veteran team with a bright future.
Last season the Wood promoted seven sophomores to the varsity team. The youngsters gained more experience than victories—the team won three games—but this year that know-how has turned into a winning 10-7 record.
“Last year was a transition year,” Wood said. “We moved seven sophomores up to varsity and we only won three games. This year we have 13 returning varsity players.”
Two of the current juniors, center forward Kezia Digoia and center midfielder JoElla Guagliardo, already knew something about athletic success. They were key members of the Warriors 2011 Central Suburban League North soccer champions. They already knew how to win.
“What we learned playing soccer has been very helpful,” Digoia said. “Now that experience has taught us how to fill the roles we have. We know what to do to be successful and it will work out.”
That experience has also helped Deerfield leap past a number of teams in the State. A year ago the Warriors were seeded 17th when state tournament pairings came out and they found themselves face to face with the Illinois’s No. 2 rated team in the first round.
“This year we would be looking at eighth (seed if the regular season ended today),” Wood said. “We would like to be in the top six (for the State Tournament). It says a lot to go from 17th to eighth or sixth.”
Warriors Pushing State’s Elite Teams
What the Warriors have done in one year is move from the bottom of the pile to knocking on the door of the state’s elite team like New Trier, Lake Forest and Oak Park-River Forest. Those squads have dominated field hockey for nearly the last two decades with the Scouts and Trevians meeting annually for the state title for most of the last 14 years.
The Warriors took enough lessons from an 8-0 loss to Lake Forest Sept. 11 to take the defending state champion Trevians out of their comfort zone Tuesday in a 2-0 defeat after holding New Trier scoreless through the first half.
“We knew we needed improve so much after Lake Forest,” center defender Jesse Stein said. “We needed to work together and communicate better with each other. We needed a better bus ride to really lighten up.”
Silence Becomes Golden
Wood used the bus ride to New Trier to make the point Stein expressed. After responding by blanking Antioch and Stevenson and then defeating Homewood-Flossmoor, 3-1, it was time to face the Trevians.
“I made it a silent bus ride after I said my piece so they could focus on what they needed to do focus on as a team,” Wood said. “They came out ready to play, to take on New Trier.”
The silence worked. “When we got to New Trier we had a very different focus,” Digoia said. “The bus ride got us to take it up to a new level. We were spot on.” She also knows there is more work ahead. “We need to get the ball out of the back.”
The silence continues to work though it is different for home games. “We have a silent warm-up,” Guagliardo said. “We run and think about the goals you want to achieve. We visualize everything. We share our goals after that.”
Teamwork is also built off the field. Stein, Digoia, Guagliardo and their teammates have also become friends. “We have each others’ backs,” Digoia said. “We help each other in school.”