Soccer adjusts to limited spring season

The+OPRF+Varsity+Boys+Soccer+team+playing+during+their+last+season%2C+in+September+of+2019

Holden Green

The OPRF Varsity Boys Soccer team playing during their last season, in September of 2019

It has been almost 17 months since their last game, but the OPRF Boys Soccer Team is back in action. However, this year the team is gearing up for a spring season unlike any other.
In the fall of 2019, the team went 11-5-2, including an eight-game win streak. They boasted a goal differential of +32 and shut out opposing teams nine times. However, they closed their season with three straight losses, including a season-ending loss against Hinsdale Central in the regional finals.
Now, the team looks to bounce back during this unique and unprecedented season. Head coach Jason Fried says that even though over 140 players showed up to tryouts (10% less than usual), the process still went smoothly. “We did not have as much time as we have had in the past, so we really needed to prioritize certain activities. Due to Covid, we have one less level in our program, so we had to select 15 fewer players than usual, which is disappointing and very hard on our players,” Fried said.
Due to snow and space availability, some teams had to go to an indoor site each day.“The process and planning were more complicated than a normal year but it did go well and we are grateful to have a season,” Fried said.
This season, the varsity team is slated to have 11 games, five of which will be at home. The season will last seven weeks, and there will be no state playoffs. Players will be required to wear masks during games and are encouraged to keep six feet of distance whenever possible. Junior Alex Hauck said this will take some getting used to, “Wearing a mask, bringing my own water and bag, using my own ball, and doing the COVID certification every day is going to be different.”
Coach Fried says because the season is now in the spring as opposed to the fall, coaches will need to adapt.” We usually build-up to our season through summer camp, and this year, the players have not had as much time to work together before competitions start.”
In regards to COVID-19 protocols, Fried says teams are following safety guidelines provided by the school, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), and the health department. “The players have done a good job listening and following these expectations as well,” Fried said. “We all need to enjoy each day out there because a positive COVID test could mean a shutdown for a team.”
As usual, the coaches still have high expectations. “We plan to be a very competitive program and expect our players to come and focus, compete and stay positive. It is a great thing that we can step on that field,” Fried said. “All of us need to not take this for granted and dedicate ourselves to self-improvement. If we can do this as a program we will have a lot of success on and off the field.”

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