Bernie Conley’s goal-scoring stats don’t tell the entire story.
In fact, the Hinckley-Big Rock senior forward’s area-leading 37 goals in 2012 are actually down from his junior year, when the Royals’ forward scored an incredible 51 goals.
Still H-BR’s most explosive offensive threat, his role changed slightly when teams based their defenses around stopping him and other players on H-BR – like Jared Madden, Billy Weissinger and Zach Michels – proved to be more-than-capable goal scorers.
“Every team plays 2-3 defenders on me, so when I get the ball, I try to find someone else. There’s gotta be someone open,” Conley said. “At the beginning of the season I took too many dribbles and then me and coach [Paul] Taeuber started to talk about it. It worked out well for all of us.”
“Well” may be a drastic understatement. Conley led the Royals with 24 assists and helped H-BR to its best season in school history, finishing in third place at the Class 1A state tournament.
For his individual excellence and H-BR’s team accomplishments, Conley has been named the Daily Chronicle Boys Soccer Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Kaneland junior midfielder Anthony Parillo and DeKalb senior defender Andrew Stratton also received consideration for the award.
“His control has constantly gotten better, no longer was it just speed, no longer was it finishing or getting close,” Taeuber said. “He became much better, seeing the open field and reading which space to go.”
It was a memorable season for Conley and the Royals.
Conley became only the fifth player in H-BR history to record 100 career goals and the Royals celebrated the program’s 1,000th game in school history, doing so with a 10-0 win over Hiawatha at home.
After losing in the super-sectional last year, cleared that hurdle in 2012 as H-BR defeated Cristo Rey Jesuit, 4-0, to make it back to state for the first time since 2003. The Royals lost, 4-3, to eventual state champion Alton Marquette, but rallied to beat Keith Country Day in the third-place match.
It was a fitting end for a senior class that finished with 71 victories in four seasons.
“We’ve been dreaming of these moments since we were little kids,” Conley said. “We’ve been playing sports growing up together. Doing it was just incredible.”
2012 Daily Chronicle All-Area Boys Soccer Team
Bernie Conley, senior forward, Hinckley-Big Rock
Conley was part of a Royals team that took third place in the state in Class 1A, the best finish in school history. He scored 37 goals and had 24 assists. Conley was a unanimous Little Ten All-Conference selection and one of two all-state selections in the area.
Chris Camargo, senior forward, Genoa-Kingston
Camargo teamed with fellow senior Devin Tijerina to form a dynamic forward tandem for the Cogs, The senior tallied 20 goals and 18 assists.
“Our main goal was to get it up to our forwards because they both work together,” G-K coach Randy Tate said. “One would be feeding off the other one.”
Pancho Garcia, junior forward, Hiawatha
Garcia was a key player in Hiawatha’s offense. He led the Hawks in both goals (26) and assists (17). Garcia was voted to the Little Ten All-Conference team as a sophomore and junior.
“He has shown major maturity and has stepped up as a leader this year,” Hiawatha coach Kyle Monestero said.
Sean Woodford, junior midfielder, DeKalb
Woodford made DeKalb’s offense go and was a Northern Illinois Big 12 All-Conference selection. Woodford led the team with 10 assists and scored three goals for the Barbs.
“He’s willing to make those box-to-box sprints if need be,” DeKalb coach Brent McIntosh said. “Sean gave us anywhere from 5 to 10 legitimate scoring opportunities per match.”
Alex Gil, senior midfielder, Kaneland
Gil was a leader in the midfield for Kaneland. His numbers were modest, 4 goals and 5 assists, but the Knights played a more defensive style. He scored the game-winning goal in the Knights’ sectional semifinal victory, sending the Knights to their first sectional final.
“What he did this year, just keeping up the middle together, I thought was amazing,” Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. “Defensively he’s amazing. He gets down and dirty in the middle.”
Anthony Parillo, junior midfielder, Kaneland
Parillo scored 19 goals and had five assists for the Knights, but most of his goals came in clutch moments. Of his 19 goals, 10 of them were game-winners.
“That’s pretty remarkable for a midfielder,” Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. “We just didn’t score as much as we had hoped and he took that on. He’s one of the best players in the state. He’s a dominant player.”
Jared Madden, senior midfielder, Hinckley-Big Rock
Madden was another playmaker on a stacked H-BR squad. He scored 17 goals and had 11 assists for the Royals and was a part of the integral senior group that has carried H-BR over the past few years.
“I always like to think of him as a very intelligent player, he did it all in the framework of the team,” H-BR coach Paul Taeuber said. “Once he made the growth, growing physically ... he’s been able to implement more of his will on the game. There are people that can finish, when Jared finishes people usually know it.”
Andrew Stratton, senior defender, DeKalb
Stratton was Northern Illinois Big 12I All-Conference and the unanimous NI Big 12 MVP as a defender. He scored three goals as a defender and was the leader for the best defense, statistically, in the area. DeKalb allowed only 14 goals all season.
“He’s an outstanding winner of 50-50 balls. He has the ability to win with skill, the ability to win with courage, the ability to win with physical play and strength,” DeKalb coach Brent McIntosh said. “He defends so well with his feet and is very hard to beat one-on-one.”
Christian Johnsen, senior defender, Hinckley-Big Rock
Johnsen’s move to marking back at the end of last season has sparked an improved H-BR defense that often gets overlooked because of the Royals’ high-powered attack.
“Christian’s really quiet ... he’s so athletic and he’s so fast,” H-BR coach Paul Taeuber said.
Tom Sanders, senior defender, Hinckley-Big Rock
Sanders was the leader of H-BR’s defense, which came up big when it had to. The Royals posted shutouts in the regional final, sectional championship and supersectional match.
“When you look at our defense, when we were playing our best ... we didn’t really allow a lot of goals until we got to state.” H-BR coach Paul Taeuber said.
Cully Hicks, senior goalkeeper, DeKalb
Was named NI Big 12 All-Conference Also scored three goals as a forward. Helped lead a defense that allowed only four goals in NI Big 12 play.
“He’s got size, a really high soccer IQ, he’s very aggressive in his box,” DeKalb coach Brent McIntosh said. “He’s very athletic and he’s got big hands. He’s got a lot of intangibles.”
Devin Tijerina, senior forward, Genoa-Kingston
Aaron Bolton, senior forward/goalkeeper, Indian Creek
Arsim Azemi, junior midfielder, Kaneland
Reyman Solis, junior midfielder, Hiawatha
Billy Weissinger, senior midfielder, Hinckley-Big Rock
Jake Bassett, sophomore midfielder, Sycamore
Sam Rymarz, senior defender, Kaneland
Ed Canchola, senior defender, Hiawatha
Nick Sablich, senior defender, DeKalb
Kyle Lieving, senior defender, Indian Creek
Marshall Farthing, senior goalkeeper, Kaneland