The Urbana High School boys’ soccer team made its sixth state final appearance in 10 years on Nov. 16 at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex but fell just short of winning its third state title. The Hawks fell 2-1 to Montgomery County’s Walt Whitman in a tightly contested championship game.
Senior defender William Micol gave the Hawks (17-3) a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute but the Vikings’ equalizer—scored by NCAA Division I Lehigh University recruit Natan Rosen shortly before halftime—shifted the game’s momentum in Whitman’s favor, Schartner said.
“We knew going in that Whitman was going to be a very good team; we kind of anticipated almost a mirror type matchup because we play a very similar style to them, both very possession based,” Schartner said. “But when it came down to it, they had the majority of the possession and we had a tough time getting the ball out of our own (defensive) end.”
Still, the Hawks withstood the Vikings’ onslaught until the 66th minute, when a rare defensive miscommunication left the ball at Whitman forward Ben Wilson’s feet with a clear look at the goal.
Though Urbana’s season didn’t end the way the Hawks had hoped, they can still reflect on quite a special campaign. Led by senior Lucas Roberton, who tallied a team-high 16 goals and 14 assists, Urbana’s 74 goals scored this fall eclipsed the program’s previous scoring record of 68 goals, set in 2016—when Urbana won its most recent state title.
The dynamic of this year’s team, which averaged nearly 4 goals per game while allowing less than one, lent itself to an aggressive, possession-oriented style of play. Fifteen players scored at least once and seven of them contributed five goals or more. Freshman Max Riley finished second on the team with 31 points off 12 goals and seven assists. Other top scorers included Ryan Sevilla (seven goals, three assists), Jack Eskay (six, seven), Nicholas Narvaez (six, three), Ryan Herman (five, seven) and Micol (five, two).
Scoring might not come as easily next fall, Schartner admitted, after eight players graduate, but the impact of this year’s senior class will certainly still be felt next season. As will the invaluable experience of seeing firsthand exactly what it takes—the day-to-day effort that allows for consistent improvement—to produce this type of season.
“As my dad (would say), if you focus on just getting a little better every day, by the end of the season, you’re a lot better,” Schartner said. “Focusing on the next step is the most important step. If we’re taking that approach, then every single time (we take the field) we’re putting our best foot forward and taking full advantage of each opportunity. The seniors really bought into that approach, they definitely took that to heart. And when you have eight leaders buying into that, it’s infectious. Attitudes are infectious, and they had great attitudes throughout the season.”