Hernandez a ‘perfect’ fit as midfielder for Falcons

Franklin Hernandez

WOODSTOCK — Central High School boys soccer coach Ted Poor calls senior Franklin Hernandez an unusual player. That’s “unusual” in the good sense of the word.

Hernandez is a “classic” midfielder according to Poor, a player who sees the field well and can flawlessly fluctuate between a defensive and offensive approach as the match dictates. He has the goal scoring ability that prompted Poor to name him the Falcons’ top scoring threat in 2015, and yet Hernandez’s instinct on the pitch is always defensive in nature.

For that reason, Poor shifted Hernandez’s responsibilities on the pitch his senior season and labeled him a defensive midfielder, a slight switch from the midfield role he fulfilled for Central last season.

“This position, I think, is perfect for him because he reads the field so well,” Poor said before Central’s practice Wednesday afternoon. “He knows when he can commit to getting to the attack. He’s a good distributor of the ball and that’s what you need in that midfield position. I think that the position has kind of been made for him this year.”

Hernandez has thrived in that role so far this spring, and he demonstrated his ability to generate goals for the Falcons against Rappahannock County on March 31. Hernandez, the Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for March 29-April 4, scored two goals and tallied an assist as Central ran away with an 8-0 win.

Hernandez’s first goal against Rappahannock County came midway through the first half, and he added his second goal of the night late in the match.

The senior will be expected to have more matches like that for the Falcons, as Poor told Hernandez before the season started that he would be Central’s leading scorer this spring. Hernandez is tied with teammate Tyler Bosserman for the team lead in goals (three) and he leads the Falcons with three assists.

“I’ve been practicing a lot,” said Hernandez, who scored four goals his entire junior season. “The defensive mid, all you do is just help the defense. But my coach told me I’m the strongest attack that we have so I fulfill that thing and shoot as much as I can and try to help the team as much as I can, because we don’t have a scorer like we did [the last two years] with Stephen Hamrick and Taishi [Ukai]. Now I feel like I have to take it, like the responsibility’s on me now.”

But Hernandez also knows he’s not alone in Central’s attack. The Falcons have had 11 different players combine to score the team’s 18 goals so far in 2015, and Hernandez said the biggest key to his own success has been his chemistry with his teammates.

“My team has trust in me and knows that I’m going to back them and they can back me up too,” Hernandez said. “The friendship level too, not just [on] the pitch. Our friendship is really good so they know what I can do and I know what they can do, so it helps me build my confidence in the midfield and I can do my job and they can do their job.”

Hernandez accepts that he will be called upon to shoulder more of the goal-scoring burden for the Falcons in his final high school season, but he’s just as comfortable spreading the ball around to his teammates.

Hernandez led the team and was third in the area with 12 assists in 2014.

“I used to be a dribbler. I would dribble on more people, but now I’ve become more of a passer and an assister, a less selfish player,” said Hernandez, who also plays travel soccer with Shenandoah County Soccer League Maxx under Central JV boys soccer coach Matt Burgwald.

Hernandez’s teammates have rewarded him by voting him a team captain in each of the last two seasons. He shares that distinction this season with fellow seniors Eric Ventura and Eri Dominguez.

“I know that I can do a lot for this team and I know they look at me as a leader,” Hernandez said. “I hope I’m doing the right thing to guide them to success and hopefully I can be a role model to the younger kids that come up, too.”

With seven seniors, seven juniors and plenty of varsity experience on this year’s team, Poor is hoping the Falcons can put together something “special” in 2015.

“We’ve got the makings of a really good team here just as long as they keep their head together, and I’m looking for Franklin to provide that, keep that leadership,” Poor said.

“He works hard. He’s dedicated. He’s so passionate about the game of soccer. He plays on the weekends on indoor teams, travel teams. He’s always working on his skill set and he’s become an excellent player. Really has helped boost, I think, the stature of Central soccer.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com