QUICKSBURG – Carlos Romero-Hernandez decided to give soccer another try this season and it paid off in a big way for him and his teammates.
The Stonewall Jackson senior took a year off from the sport and had a dazzling season for the Generals in his return. Romero-Hernandez said he was surprised at what he was able to accomplish this year.
“I didn’t realize I could be that good,” Romero-Hernandez said.
Romero-Hernandez, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2018 Boys Soccer Player of the Year, had an area-best 28 goals and 15 assists for the Generals this season.
First-year Stonewall Jackson coach Matt Burgwald said that it didn’t take long for him to realize Romero-Hernandez was going to have a good year.
“When I met him I’m sure he was trying to size me up, see if I knew anything about soccer because I had not coached him before,” Burgwald said. “After we started going through some of our routines he really started to bite on what I was teaching and he personally strived to learn and excelled in the system that I was using.”
Romero-Hernandez said that he first learned how to play soccer growing up in El Salvador, but never played on any specific teams there. Four years ago, his family moved to the United States and to the area and he played soccer for Stonewall Jackson as a freshman.
He said the schools in the United States are more advanced than in El Salvador and he still struggles at times with his English. Romero-Hernandez said he enjoyed his time at Stonewall Jackson.
He said that he was encouraged to play soccer at Stonewall Jackson in his freshman year.
“Friends told me to get on the team because they thought I played really good,” he said.
In Romero-Hernandez’s sophomore year he scored six goals and had two assists for the Generals. After taking a year off he came back stronger than ever.
“I have improved a lot,” he said. “I’m not shy when I go to shoot anymore.”
Burgwald said that one of the best things about Romero-Hernandez was his willingness to learn.
“He is a lethal finisher, calm under pressure and a cerebral forward,” Burgwald said. “He definitely improved as the season went along. When he didn’t perform well I could show him why and then almost routinely the next game he would have some of those issues corrected.”
Romero-Hernandez said scoring goals is an amazing feeling, but much of the credit goes to his teammates for getting him the ball.
“It was good because we had a friendship and we were able to communicate,” he said of his teammates.
Burgwald said as the season went along more teams started to try to focus on stopping Romero-Hernandez. Burgwald said the Generals then began using Romero-Hernandez as more of a passer to set-up his teammates for goals. Burgwald said the goal was to have several scoring options and for opposing teams to be unsure of who was going to shoot for the Generals.
Romero-Hernandez said he didn’t mind passing the ball and enjoyed getting assists as much as scoring goals.
“I felt good, because I didn’t want myself to be the center of attention,” he said. “And I wanted to share the moment with my teammates.”
The Generals had a strong season and advanced to the Class 1 state quarterfinals. They went 13-9-1, just one year after having a losing season.
Romero-Hernandez said that his favorite moment of the season was the Generals’ 6-2 victory over Riverheads in the Region 1B final. He said that he was proud of how the team did in his senior year.
“I think we have improved a lot, because two years ago when I played we didn’t do really good,” he said. “And this year – that was great. I didn’t imagine we could go to states.”