Emily Fox scores twice to lead Deerfield to the section title

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Emily Fox, a sophomore from Deerfield, knew she had to step it up on Friday.

Lake Forest entered the Class 2A Wauconda Sectional championship game with back-to-back wins over third-seeded Carmel and second-seeded St. Viator, going 1-0 up against the top-seeded Warriors late in the first half.

“I just wanted to keep my composure,” Fox said. “I knew we absolutely needed a goal.”

Fox, who is usually an attacking midfielder, moved up to the forward and scored two of them, leveling the game in the second half and then adding an insurance goal in overtime as Deerfield clinched a 3-1 win for the second division title in the program history scored.

The Warriors (21-3-2) advance into the Grayslake Central Supersection and play Boylan Catholic (19-1), a 2-1 winner over Crystal Lake Central, in the Freeport Sectional.

Sophomore Elizabeth Flynn scored for Lake Forest (10-11-1), drilling a close-range shot into the net after a long throw-in with 38 seconds left in the first half.

Thirteen minutes after the break, Fox found himself in the scouts’ half at the end of a loose ball. Deerfield’s goalscorer flew past her defender in one swift move, went around second goalkeeper Sarah Constantine and fired in from close range to make it 1-1.

“I couldn’t get too rushed. … I stopped, I looked up and I kicked in hard,” Fox said.

Their goal came shortly after Deerfield coach Rich Grady had reassured his players that they had their fate under control despite Lake Forest’s leadership.

“We were a team that really attacked in waves all year long,” Grady said. “I told them at halftime, ‘You’re going to get one. Relax yourself. We’ll be fine.’ Then you saw. Fox is just a special player.”

About a minute after OT, freshman Ryane Emory came at the end of a cross from senior Holly Deutsch and scored to give Deerfield a 2-1 lead.

It was a fitting moment for Emory, whose sister Erin is a senior and sister Haley was on the 2016 team that finished second in the state. Senior Katie Morgan and second goalie Lauren Gottlieb also had older sisters on this team.

“It was a beautiful opportunity for them to write their own chapter and become a part of our school’s football history,” said Grady.

The scouts made several forays towards goal, but Fox erased all doubts with about two minutes remaining in the first leg of the 20-minute OT. She shoved a shot straight into the left post from near the top of the 18-yard box.

Assisting came from freshman Aubrey Galvan, another underclassman — and basketball star — who has played a role this season.

According to Fox, the team’s veterans created a supportive, competitive environment that helped the talented younger players become contributors.

“We do everything together, and I think that contributes to our success,” Fox said. “We support each other no matter how many minutes you play. You come in and everyone gives it their all.”

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Lake Forest senior Taylor Cekay, who also excelled in gymnastics and diving for the Scouts, beamed with tears of pride as she reflected on her high school career.

“I can’t believe this is the last time I’ll put on a Lake Forest uniform after 12 seasons of varsity sport,” she said. “I’m really proud because I never thought we’d even make it this far. We had some problems during the season but we really overcame them.”

Cekay orchestrated the scouts’ goal and launched a deft flip throw from the touchline into the middle of the 18-yard box. The throw’s sharp angle made it difficult for Deerfield’s defense to parry, and senior Emersen Waddle flicked it to Flynn, who drilled it into the net.

“It took me until the end of the season to find the right release time and it was crazy,” Cekay said of her interjections. “It’s so funny to see everyone’s reaction because they don’t expect it at all. I did what I could for my team.”

Longtime Lake Forest coach Ty Stuckslager said this team will stand out as one of his favorites, level with the group that won the 2014 state championship.

“We talked about growing, stepping up all year, and we ended up doing it,” Stuckslager said. “Unfortunately, I set a goal that we want to play 80 minutes, from start to finish, and we had to play 100 today.”

“They were all in,” he added.

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