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updated: 10/31/2013 12:35 PM

Antioch's Hernandez takes starring role

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  • Antioch's Iven Hernandez drives down the field in Class 3A sectional semifinal play against Grayslake Central on Wednesday at Grayslake North High School.

      Antioch's Iven Hernandez drives down the field in Class 3A sectional semifinal play against Grayslake Central on Wednesday at Grayslake North High School.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

Discovering what motivates him to achieve his best has helped Iven Hernandez find the back of the soccer net.

Again, again and again.

"I like to watch motivational videos," said Hernandez, Antioch's goal-scoring machine. "I do it right before games and on the way to games. I'll even (watch videos) sometimes when I have free time at school."

Before he started high school, Hernandez needed a way to lift his game to another level. He navigated until he found what he was looking for.

Push the play button.

"I really needed a way to motivate myself," he said. "I would get down on myself. I needed to find ways to help motivate myself. It's more of a mental type of thing."

This season, Hernandez's play has been highlight-reel worthy. He headed into Wednesday's Class 2A sectional semifinal against Grayslake Central with a school record-tying 32 goals to go along with 12 assists. Named all-state, the junior forward is the captain of the Daily Herald Lake County all-area team.

He racked up 18 goals and 14 assists as a freshman and followed up with 17 goals and 7 assists last season.

"I've seen my maturity grow the last few years," Hernandez said. "My freshman year, I was scared playing against the seniors. Now, I know that I have to set a good example for the underclassmen."

It's a role he's embraced. His teammates know they can count on Hernandez for not only goals but leadership.

"He's just a team leader," Sequoits junior defender Eric Pedersen said. "He has a way of bringing the team together. When the team is down, he has a way of bringing the team up. His intensity on the field shows, and he gives great speeches."

"He just works hard out there every day,"junior midfielder Thomas Furlong said. "He shows you not to be afraid of anything."

Hernandez's work ethic stands out, whether he's working on the attack or showing a desire to hustle back and help defensively. He's extremely dangerous at the top of the box and can strike for goals in a heartbeat.

"He's a pure striker that has the uncanny ability to finish," Antioch coach Marni Polakow said. "He has always shown up when we needed him most. He is allusive and dynamic on the ball and can take players on anywhere on the pitch. He's a game-changer that can make entire defenses miss and can score from any angle on the field."

If Antioch soccer players need a role model, someone might want to put together a video of the Sequoits star.

"His personality and energy are infectious," Polakow said of Hernandez, "and teammates, teachers, family and friends love him."

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