PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — High school soccer players couldn’t wait for Monday.
The much-delayed 2020-21 boys soccer season started with practice around the state roughly six months after the season was scheduled to start.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this, over a year,” said Dunlap senior Nicholas Cenek.
Many high school soccer players haven’t played in a game since October 2019, when the previous season ended.
“we’re just glad to be able to come out here even if the weather is bad or cold, we’re ready for anything,” Cenek added. “We’re just excited to get ready for the season.”
The Illinois High School Association moved the boys soccer season from the fall to the spring during the pandemic.
“To see these kids out here representing their school, getting the opportunity to put on their Dunlap uniform and play and represent their community is the best aspect,” said Dunlap head coach Allan Hansen. “A few months ago, we didn’t know. So being out here is truly a blessing.”
Indeed, a couple of months ago the soccer season appeared to be in jeopardy. All high school sports in Illinois were on pause from November 20 to mid-January as the state wrestled with a surge in COVID cases.
“The big message is take advantage of every day. We got a six- week season, one week to prepare, five weeks of games roughly three games a week,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Bare. “Everyday matters, even if its the day before a game, day after a game, we have to get better today and make the most out of this season.”
Teams must have seven days of practice before they can start playing games. Many teams will start play on March 9.
“It’s really exciting. At the beginning of the year we didn’t really know if we were going to have a season so just getting out here and playing with the boys is a great feeling,” said Notre Dame senior;. “I think we are just excited to get out there playing a couple times a week and just having that opportunity again.”
The season will run into April 17 but there won’t be an IHSA state series this year.