Playoff loss marks end of Urbana boys' soccer coach's 32-year career

Playoff loss marks end of Urbana boys' soccer coach's 32-year career

URBANA — The emotions hadn't sunken in yet for Urbana boys' soccer coach Randy Blackman, who joked around quietly with his assistants after giving a somber postgame speech no different from the ones he's given in years past following Friday's 2-0 loss to Chatham-Glenwood in the Class 2A Urbana Sectional final.

Maybe, he said, the gravity of the moment would hit him later that night as he sat by himself. His decorated 32-year coaching career that included three trips to state, after all, was over. But at that moment, it felt like the ending to any other season.

"It's kind of like every year when you lose," Blackman said. "I know it's my last time, but I probably won't really sit and think about it until maybe I'm at home by myself."

In his final game coaching the sport, the fickle nature of soccer did Blackman and the Tigers in.

The two shots that swung the game just a minute apart were nearly identical with completely different outcomes.

The first came with just over 10 minutes left in the first half with the Tigers trailing 1-0. Urbana's Bennett Anderson collected an errant Chatham-Glenwood clearance at the top of the box, took a few dribbles and fired a shot from the corner of the penalty area that skimmed just inches past the post.

"Over the season I've taken many shots going across the box," Anderson said, "and I've hit that usually."

On the ensuing possession, Chatham-Glenwood's Darian Turner took a shot that was nearly a mirror image of Anderson's — hitting the ball across the face of goal with his left foot. The ball caught the post and bounced in for a goal to make the score 2-0.

Anderson's near miss wasn't the Tigers' last close call.

Ten minutes into the second half, Urbana's Miguel Lemus fired a shot from outside the penalty area that clipped the top of the crossbar. With 19 minutes remaining, the Chatham-Glenwood goalkeeper deflected the ball straight to Anderson's feet on the end line, and the senior found Magnus Parente, who had shot at the far post. Parente's shot was on frame, but a Chatham-Glenwood defender raced back to clear it off the line.

"It needed to bounce our way," Blackman said, "and it just didn't quite happen."

Blackman couldn't scratch out a fourth trip to state, but he left a legacy at Urbana. Parente said he was a coach who turned him from a soft freshman into a much more mentally tough player.

Parente had tears in his eyes after his final high school game. Blackman did not. The coach with a gruff exterior responded to the end of his career in a manner fitting of his personality.

"He wasn't mad. He didn't seem sad yet, but I'm sure it'll hit him," Parente said as Blackman let out a groan while he walked by. "I feel sad that we couldn't give it one last run to state for him."