DEERFIELD — In anticipation of 90-degree temperatures for a home game against Stevenson Thursday, Deerfield boys soccer players hydrated at school.
“I try and drink 32 to 64 ounces [of water] to prepare for the game,” senior center midfielder Parker James said.
When James lined up for a corner kick with 22 minutes remaining in a scoreless game Thursday, a diminishing sun had not completely erased the blistering heat. But disciplined hydration, as well as liberal substituting by Deerfield coach Elliott Hurtig, kept the Warriors fresh until the end of a 1-0 victory.
James’ left-side corner kick came down just in front of the Patriots goal. A scramble ensued, resulting in a goal by Deerfield junior forward Steven Shore. The Warriors held on the rest of the way to defeat the Patriots and earn their third victory in four games.
“The heat and humidity was so intense. We talked before the game that this was going to be a real team effort,” Hurtig said. “On the turf, it had to be 90-95 degrees.”
Loading up on carbohydrates the night before a game is a well-known strategy for football teams. Deerfield’s soccer team does the same.
The Warriors gathered at the home of senior midfielder Jack Bizar for a team dinner Wednesday night. They devoured plates of chicken for protein and pasta for carbs. It was necessary fuel for Thursday’s game, the Warriors’ sixth in 10 days to start the season.
Their 3-2-1 record is much too small a sample size to define the season, but a pattern is developing.
Deerfield is already a good defensive team, allowing just four goals so far. Against Stevenson, sophomores Will Schmetterer and Matt Grady and junior Mike Such consistently took away passing lanes.
“Some guys were pushed a lot more. Will [Schmetterer] and Matt [Grady] didn’t come off the field. That’s amazing,” Hurtig said.
Although Hurtig used 15 players in the first half, Stevenson coach Mark Schartner took a different approach.
The Patriots’ starters played the entire first half. That’s when Stevenson controlled possession, creating its best chances. In the second half, Schartner rotated his bench so that almost the entire roster saw action.
Senior forward Ethan Marx stood out for the Patriots. At the 26-minute mark of the first half, with the ball on his feet, he fired a right-footed shot just wide of the right post. From 20 feet out, it represented Stevenson’s best opportunity at a goal.
“We played a nonconference game against a quality team. Give Deerfield credit. They really worked hard,” Schartner said. “It looked like we were going to have chances. But they seemed to get in front of a lot of stuff.”
With rival Highland Park on the schedule Saturday night, Deerfield players left Adams Field Thursday night with immediate plans for rest. But not before another round of hydration.
“More Gatorade and water,” James said.