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Boys soccer hope experience helps against St. Thomas

January 30, 2013
Deerfield Beach High School

When the Deerfield High boys soccer team defeated Taravella for the district championship last Friday, the joyful scene — complete with players diving on the ground and hoisting their coach in the air — looked like something out of a World Cup celebration.

Bucks coach Frantz Edouard fully expects his players to carry that sense of fun into Wednesday's Class 5A regional quarterfinal against St. Thomas.

"That's how it's been all year for us," Edouard said. "We're not loose, but we're enjoying the game. Most of these kids have grown up together in Latin America, where soccer is a fun game. It's a joy. We're never too hyped or too low for any game, [but] we have fun."

Deerfield Beach (18-3-1) saw its season end with a loss to the Raiders (14-2-3) in last year's regional quarterfinals in a game in which the Bucks were missing starting goalkeeper Georges Cunha, suspended after receiving a red card. Cunha is back in goal this time, and Edouard said his presence, coupled with his team's experience, should make a difference.

"They're in a better position to tackle this situation," Edouard said. "Now it's, 'Let's get ready for this one game and see if we can win it.' They're confident. They're not overconfident, but they're confident enough."

The Bucks' backbone is a group of six seniors who've played together for four years, the coach said.

"It's one of my better teams," Edouard said. "It's just the experience of the kids and the kind of work that we put in. They have really worked hard. It's experience and belief in our system and style of play."

Edouard, Deerfield's coach for 20-plus years and a native of Haiti, has long drawn players from Deerfield Beach's Haitian community. The Bucks' mix of nationalities can make coaching a challenge — albeit a fun one.

"We communicate in English. Sometimes I do scream out a few words in Creole Haitian," Edouard said. "We have Hispanic kids, too, and the ones who have been in the community long enough translate for me. Creole, English, Spanish — whatever works."

Edouard, whose 2009 team made a trip to the regional finals, hopes the Bucks' winning formula keeps working long enough to at last earn the school a shot at a state title. His team dynamic is his concern going into the St. Thomas game — not his opponent.

"We don't care," Edouard said. "I've always told my kids, we want to take care of ourselves. We need to do what we have to do to get better. My kids don't really care about who they're playing. It's let just go out and have fun."

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