Speed and quickness on the wing in soccer matches often comes in small packages.
That position usually isn’t reserved for players such as Urbana’s Ryan Herman, who stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs almost 200 pounds.
“You would typically think he’d be in the middle of the [field],” Hawks boys soccer coach Scott Schartner said when reached by phone Saturday.
But the physically imposing Herman can streak down the field and then cross the ball into the 18-yard box just as well, if not better than many players on the wing. For the second time in as many playoff matches, Herman’s ability to do just that led to a goal as Urbana defeated Bladensburg 2-0 in a Class 4A state semifinal Saturday at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School.
The Hawks (17-2) will try to win the third state title in program history next week, when they take on Whitman (15-1) in the 4A state championship match at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex. The date and time haven’t been determined.
In the second minute of Saturday’s match, Herman beat his defender on the right side of the field and crossed the ball into the box, where the ball bounced off two defenders and right to Max Riley, who from near the top of the box settled the ball and scored his 12th goal of the season.
Herman’s large frame serves him well when he fights smaller players for the ball, but so does his mindset.
“He sees the value of the set-up, and the neat thing about Ryan and a lot of our players is they almost view assists as valuable as goals,” Schartner said. “Knowing you supply the pass that created the goal is just as satisfying as being the goal-scorer. It’s a pretty neat mindset for a group of guys to have.”
Schartner sees players such as Riley, Luke Roberton and Nicholas Narvaez as being in the same boat — one of the many reasons why the Hawks have won 15 straight matches after a 2-2 start.
Riley also factored into the second goal midway through the first half. While Riley and the Bladensburg goalie chased the ball to the right of the Mustangs’ goal, Riley was taken down, leading to a penalty kick that Roberton converted for his 16th goal.
Urbana got off 10 shots in the match while Bladensburg managed five, but Schartner said the Mustangs provided the Hawks their toughest test so far in the playoffs. On a windy day, Bladensburg operated against the wind in the first half but may have featured a better offensive attack in the first half, according to Schartner. Urbana goalie Parker Sherrill made a nice stop on a point-blank shot midway through the half.
“Just the overall effort of our guys was incredible,” Schartner said. “Bladensburg was without question the most determined team we played.”