STERLING – So much for Adrian Herrera’s bum hamstring.
The Golden Warriors junior was sidelined for his team’s first four matches – a stretch where they didn’t get a win or score a goal.
Herrera helped break one of Sterling’s droughts Thursday at the Roscoe Eades soccer pitch against LaSalle-Peru with 19 minutes, 41 seconds gone in what finished as a 2-2 tie. Gaining possession near the right sideline close to the corner, Herrera booted a cross through Cavaliers’ keeper Jalen Depenbrock.
Sterling’s other goal also came from Herrera, who provided the final equalizer with 4:18 left to play.
Herrera, who also plays for Sterling’s football team, practices on the same turf each day. He discussed his playing status with teammate Eric Davila after Wednesday’s practice, and Herrera felt like he didn’t want to miss the first home game of the season – and the first varsity sports event utilizing the school’s new video scoreboard.
“I saw the scoreboard,” Herrera said. “I couldn’t miss out on the first game [with it]. I was feeling fine at practice yesterday and took it easy.
“I was told not to go 100 percent and don’t go too hard. That’s what I did. I helped my teammates pass the ball, and wasn’t really trying to sprint.”
Herrera texted Sterling coach Brian Cebula earlier in the day asking if he could play. Cebula was initially cautious about it – and didn’t know for sure before the preceding JV match if he was going to play – but after an athletic trainer’s review, Herrera was cleared. He said after the match that his hamstring is about 80 percent OK.
“After warmups, he felt really confident,” Cebula said. “He didn’t feel anything, so I went with it, and it didn’t backfire.”
Sterling’s other drought continued, remaining winless after five matches (0-3-2, 0-1-1 NIB-12 West). However, Thursday’s result was neither a win nor a loss, and it became a high point upon which the Golden Warriors can improve.
“I was happy with the style of play,” Cebula said. “This is not a team that I’ve seen in the last four games. I don’t know if it was getting No. 4 [Herrera] back, or what it was, but we were combining up the field and possessing well. The things that we’ve been working on in training sessions have all come together.”
Work on corner kick situations, however, will be a point of emphasis in the coming days, as both of the Cavs’ goals came in that fashion.
LaSalle-Peru (1-3-1, 0-1-1) had a goal denied in the seventh minute due to an offisde call – a violation that denied the Cavaliers four additional times in the first half. Sterling, meanwhile, had the first two on-target shots; Tanner Crandall’s 10-yard strike was blocked in the ninth minute, and Eric Davilla’s 21-yard blast through the middle was stopped nearly a minute later.
Jesus Cruz got the Cavs on the board first, successfully converting a corner kick try with a 4-yard chip-in from the right post with 11:36 gone. Herrera scored Sterling’s first goal 7 minutes later.
Bailey Kubly put his team back up by one in the 57th minute as he found a hole through a scrum.
“It’s nice to go home with one point, at least,” Cavs coach Leo Trujillo said. “We came here expecting the same ol’ Sterling, and that’s what we got – good competition. Our kids played hard and they left everything on the field.”
Sterling led 18-10 in overall shots (7-5 on-target). Depenbrock recorded six saves in net for the Cavs, and Golden Warriors’ freshman keeper Sergio Garcia had two stops.
“We played much better [Thursday] than in the other games,” Garcia said. “We need to learn how to find corner kicks better, but other than that I thought we did pretty good.”
The Cavs finished with eight offside calls, and had another apparent goal denied in the 60th minute when Kubly’s one-on-one blast from 20 yards was called back.
“We played as a team,” Herrera said, “and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Sterling 2, LaSalle-Peru 2
Star of the match: Adrian Herrera, Sterling, 2 goals
Key performers: Jesus Cruz and Bayley Kubly, L-P, goals; Jalen Depenbrock, L-P, 6 saves
Up next: Sterling at Rock Island, 3:30 p.m. Saturday