Prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner’s take on Urbana’s first trip to the boys’ soccer Final Four:
Even before they get their still-to-be-determined state trophy Saturday, Urbana’s boys’ soccer team knows one fact: It is the state’s No. 1 public school team in Class 2A. The other three state semifinalists are private or parochial schools.
What a field! The Tigers open this afternoon against the team (St. Viator) that won the 2009 state championship and has played in the final match three times since 2000. On the other side of the bracket is Peoria Notre Dame, which won state crowns in 2008 and 2010 and is among the state’s top four 2A teams for a fifth consecutive season.
Think Urbana can’t match that tradition? Consider this: The last year the Tigers qualified for state (2005), they were the only team all season to defeat the 2A state champions. Urbana shut out Chatham Glenwood in a regular season match. That shows the level of excellence the school has attained under coach Randy Blackman.
This year’s Urbana team won’t be overmatched at state. The question is whether the Tigers can avoid the jitters and nerves that could be less prevalent for the programs that are accustomed to competing at that level. If so, this could be a very memorable weekend.