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24th June 2015

Huntley's Deanna Hecht is player of the year

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Sarah Nader | Staff Photographer
Huntley's Deanna Hecht has been named the 2015 Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Watching from the sideline with a broken bone in her foot and a bulky red cast around her right leg was of course not the way Deanna Hecht wanted to end her Huntley soccer career.

After scoring twice to help Huntley win a Class 3A sectional semifinal, Hecht, the Red Raiders' leading scorer, was injured in a practice leading up to the sectional final. Her season on the field was over, but the Red Raiders were still alive. As a captain, she wanted to keep her teammates' focus on their biggest games of the season, rather than her injury.

“It was upsetting that I couldn’t be there, but I knew that if I sat there and showed how upset I was, people would be worried about it," Hecht said. "I’ve grown very close with all those girls, and I know that when I broke my foot a lot of them were like, ‘That [stinks]; that’s not fair,’ and they felt bad for me, and I didn’t want them to worry about me. I just wanted them to go out there and be as focused as possible, and I knew they could win. I knew they could do all these things.

"I just didn’t want this one thing that happened to distract them. So I just kind of had to get over it pretty quick, and it was upsetting, it was really hard, especially Barrington, very hard for me to sit there and watch that game, but you know, you kind of just got to deal with it. ... I just didn’t want to have a negative impact.”

Hecht didn't miss a beat, yelling instructions and encouragement from the sideline as the Red Raiders beat Cary-Grove and advanced to face Barrington in the supersectional, where their season ultimately ended.

“She was almost walking the sidelines like a coach, and I really welcomed that, because she was such a vocal leader throughout that I knew she would bring a voice that her teammates were going to listen to,” Huntley coach Kris Grabner said.

Despite the season-ending injury, her team-high 28 goals and leadership as a captain for the Red Raiders made Hecht the Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year, selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches.

Huntley junior Taryn Jakubowski, the Red Raiders’ creative force in midfield, Johnsburg senior Delaney Pruitt, the county’s leading scorer at 41 goals, and Richmond-Burton junior Halley Havlicek, who scored 20 goals for the sectional-winning Rockets, also were considered.

Hecht had battled injury before. After scoring 23 goals as a sophomore, she injured her knee and had to sit out most of the 2014 season. She returned for the end of the season and helped the Red Raiders win their first sectional title.

Coming into 2015, Hecht felt like people were underestimating the Red Raiders because of what they had lost from the previous year. Whether that slight was real or imagined, Hecht said it “kind of fired us up to be even better, to raise the expectations even higher and make sure people that doubted us were wrong.”

The Red Raiders went 19-4, and Hecht consistently came up with goals in big moments. She scored with 1:10 left against Crystal Lake South to assure Huntley a share of the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title for the first time in her four years at Huntley. She scored five postseason goals as the Red Raiders won a ninth consecutive regional and second sectional title.

“She’s very smart about the game,” Grabner said. “She may not have certain physical tools that other people have, but she understands the game better than most of them do. She can kind of read what is going on in a game and put herself in the right position.

"And then, from a scoring standpoint, I haven’t seen anybody that can release a shot as quickly as she does and get the pace on it that she does. It kind of comes out of nowhere, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons she scores the goals she does. She can get a good shot off from almost anywhere.”

Hecht credited her teammates for the Red Raiders’ high-scoring attack.

"I think it was just the fact that we have a lot of selflessness," Hecht said. "I think there were a lot of people that were willing to make the pass instead of score the goal, and you know, yeah, I scored a lot of goals, but it wasn’t all neccessarily me.

"I think Taryn probably had almost every one of my assists to my goals and Alyssa (Kaufmann) had plenty of assists. I think ultimately it was just me being in the right place at the right time and other people just doing great things around me. All in all, we just had a really strong attacking force. I think it was just hard work and wanting to be successful as a team and wanting to score goals and win games that ultimately drove us."

Hecht, who is signed to play at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne next season, has about a month and a half left in varying forms of a cast or boot.

She’s frustrated she can’t be working on the same preseason training program as the rest of the team leading up to when IPFW begins its season Aug. 21, but Hecht is hoping to be ready to take the field when conference play begins Oct. 2.

For now, she’s getting her soccer fix through this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada.

“At least I have the World Cup on, or else I’d probably be going crazy,” she said.

June, 23rd 2015 - BY JOHN WILKINSON - NORTHWEST HERALD

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