FRANKFORT — The Urbana fan base grew in numbers on Saturday compared with Friday’s turnout. Superintendent Preston Williams, athletic director Greg Hall and school board president John Dimit were present. Williams and Dimit both made a ‘U’ symbol to the crowd when they received their state medals.
Urbana senior defender Joseph Lund was thankful for the crowd that remained loud until the end.
“I really appreciate that,” he said. “It’s about as inconvenient as it could be since it’s really far and (the match started) at 1 p.m. It’s really cold, but I’m glad they all came. We really do. It’s special.”
The Urbana football team’s Class 5A second-round playoff game at Morris starting an hour after the soccer match ended.
“It’s been a great ride,” Urbana coach Randy Blackman said. “Between us, the football team and Urbana Uni High (boys’ soccer finishing second in 1A), it’s been marvelous for the community.”
Anderson takes one for team
Urbana sophomore midfielder David Anderson, one of the Tigers’ key catalysts on offense and defense, had to leave the match with just under 12 minutes to play after a ball went off his face. He did not re-enter the match, and his right eye was swollen shut during the medal ceremony.
“It looks like he’s been in a pretty tough 15-round fight,” Blackman said. “He’ll have a pretty good black eye.”
Barreda gets another chance
For Urbana assistant coach Alberto Barreda, this was his second time representing Urbana at the soccer state tournament. Barreda was a member of the 2005 Tigers squad that advanced to a Class 2A quarterfinal but lost 2-1 to Palatine Fremd.
“It was a lot of fun,” Barreda said. “It was an emotional ride, for sure. I’m really proud of the way they battled throughout the whole playoffs. They never gave up and kept fighting the whole season.”
When Barreda played, the IHSA still had a two-class system for soccer. When Urbana lost to Fremd in that Friday quarterfinal match, the Tigers’ season ended. Having gone through the new format, which guarantees schools that make it to the state tournament are assured of two matches during two days, Barreda is a fan of the three-class system.
“Everyone will come here and know exactly what they have schedulewise,” he said. “It’s also a great opportunity for (the players) because they get to enjoy the whole experience. When we played, we were unsure of if we were going to stay (the night) or not. I love the new format.”
Seniors say goodbye
Urbana will lose 11 seniors from this year’s team: keeper Gerardo Barreda, midfielder Miguel Fierro, Lund, defender Tony Petrotte, midfielder Joel Shea, forward Brian Lopez, midfielder Ivan Villamar, defender Adam Bengston, forward Jonathan Lukusa, keeper Carlos Rodriguez and keeper Brian Summers. Of the 11, six were starters.
“They worked hard for years,” Blackman said. “They worked hard for this moment, this opportunity, and they led by example. I’m really proud of them.”
Even with the departing seniors, Lund thinks the future still will look bright for the Tigers.
“We have a lot of younger kids that are really playing well,” Lund said. “I’m optimistic. Just being here and the experience makes it less of a myth or whatever you think it is. We did it, and we can do it again.”
Fierro said it was the greatest soccer season he’s ever been a part of.
“I love all these guys and the coaches,” he said. “I’m sad that we couldn’t win a state (championship) trophy for the community, Coach and everyone.”