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Holly Deutch was the Footballer of the Year by News-Sun Girls magazine.

Holly Deutch recalls how her older brother Noah was in Deerfield’s boys’ basketball program.

There were ups and downs.

“He was laid off in his freshman year,” she recalled.

But Noah Deutch was on the team by his 2015-16 senior season, when the Warriors won 28 games to reach the Finals.

“I saw how incredibly hard he worked to finish the senior year he wanted,” said Holly Deutch. “I was in seventh grade at the time and I admired his work ethic and how he handled everything.

“Now I understand what a role model he was for me then. That’s why it was so valuable that I successfully completed my senior year.”

Deutsch certainly did it. The senior midfielder’s ability to see the pitch, connect passes and score has helped Deerfield secure third place in the 2A class this season. It was the second result in the history of the program.

Deutch, the 2022 News-Sun Girls Football Player of the Year, has shown a rare gift for finding teammates. En route to setting Deerfield’s career assists record, she set a single-season record of 31 and also scored 14 goals.

Playing alongside her, sophomore Emily Fox scored 27 goals while high school student Riley Szymanski added 18 goals.

“I like to think of myself as a team player,” Deutsch said. “I feel like there are times when I can hit and instead I try to pass. On the field, I’m always looking for open options. I’ve always been like this. I find it funny when I set people up. It makes me happy.

“Three years ago I spent a whole summer with my club coach working on various cross techniques and it’s really paid off since then, almost to the point where I forget to quit because I’m too focused on passing.”

But when offered a quality kick or a free kick, Deutsch will go for it.

“When I don’t see anyone, I try to create a shooting opportunity for myself,” she said. “The idea of ​​finding my teammates goes hand in hand with my personality because I’m always trying to find a way to see other points of view.”

Deerfield coach Rich Grady said Deutch, who has no plans to play in Florida next season, is a next-level athlete with her foot skills and vision, and that she can influence the game without scoring.

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“Holly was a game changer for us because there was always the threat of her being behind the other team’s defense, which opened up opportunities for other players,” Grady said. “While working on the wing, Holly also took many of our long free kicks and was always a threat to score or kick a dangerous ball into the box.

“Holly was always ready to do whatever was necessary to help the team, including coming back to play as an outside defender when we needed it.”

Deutsch said she realized she had the ability to play prank after a local newspaper praised her “for scoring six goals at the age of eight”. She thanked her club coach Greg Bowers for influencing her development.

Deutsch said that leading the Warriors to the program’s second state trophy was more important than any personal accolades.

“The energy and community that we seniors have built on this team is unmatched,” she said. “We wanted to go far and talked about it for months, but reality was the best part of it. … It was very important for me to be the captain of this team.

“I enjoyed mentoring and helping young players because it makes me feel good. I enjoyed seeing my teammates grow as players and people and I feel like it really helped me to shine. At the end of the day, my job was to lead our players to their fullest potential to the best of my ability. We set the standard and our team followed suit.”

Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter for News-Sun.

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