BCR co-Soccer Players of the Year
Bryan Fuentes, then a sophomore, knew the Little Giants had something coming up special when Jackson Heiden joined the Hall-DePue soccer program two years ago as a little freshman.
Fuentes had played with Heiden, who’s one year younger, since they were kids, and was excited to join forces with him once again.
“He’s one great player. We grew up on soccer, he was always being the one Sweet Gear, making all the crazy shots,” Fuentes said.
“I knew coming into high school what he was going to be like. Just an all-around great kid, too. A really great team player. Always looking for the right pass. Always looking for the right play.”
They formed a formidable pair on the pitch for the DePue-Hall co-op this year, taking part in 47 of the team’s 95 points (goals/assists) between them.
Fuentes, a senior midfielder, led the team with eight assists to go with 14 goals (22 points). Heiden, a junior forward, made good on a team-best 19 goals to go with six assists (25 points).
They are the 2019 co-BCR Soccer Players of the Year.
It was by no accident, the D-H dynamic duo shined so well together on the pitch.
“Every game, we’d always talk about our game plan,” Fuentes said. “If he had the ball, he’d always be looking for me. If I had the ball, I’d always be looking for him. So had that connection with him.”
Heiden said they had a natural bond.
“I grew up with him. Ever since we were young, we’ve been playing together. Kind of like a bond,” Heiden said. “I know Bryan’s strengths, and he knew mine. Whenever I was weak in something, he was there for me.
“Off the field, we’re close, too, and I feel like that really helps, too.”
The Little Giants had their ups and downs during the course of an 8-8 season. They were playing their best soccer of the year at the end of the season, reaching the regional finals before falling to host Mendota 3-2 on penalty kicks.
“We started off a little slow, but with the new kids that we had, I think they progressed pretty good throughout the season. A lot of them became more aggressive,” Fuentes said. “We grew more as a team, more as a family. Some games, we had our ups and downs. At practices, we talked about it and talked about our mistakes, and that really helped us a lot.”
“It was one of the best seasons we’ve had,” Heiden said. “We improved a lot. I think we shocked a lot of people how well we did.”
Heiden, who plays soccer only, plays the sport year-round with the Chicago Fire Juniors out of Naperville, moving indoors for the winter.
Fuentes, who started up basketball for Hall this week, has some feelers out from a couple of colleges and hopes to take his soccer game to the next level.
“Hopefully I can come see them play and see him tear it up again along with some other kids. Just hoping they are having a great season,” Fuentes said.
“It was just a great experience. I grew up playing and watching it. When we got the chance to play (the D-H co-op), I was just happy about it. The four years were just amazing. The kids I met, they all turned into my brothers. It was just one heckuva experience.”
Heiden said he’s really going to miss his partner in crime next year.
“When ever I’m down or need somebody to pass it to, he’s always been there. When I have my tough games, he’s there for me. It’s going to be rough,” Heiden said.
“It was a good season. I’m going to miss all the seniors, and next year we’re going to be striving for a better season.”
Heiden said he will be working on controlling the ball in the midfield more and “not rushing it and playing more as team as a whole.”