Maine West forward Nelson Herrera made his name as a freshman two years ago who powered an upstart Warriors team to a sectional final appearance.
The 5-10, 170-pound is an elite scorer who is lithe, agile and capable of dominating the ball with either foot. In less than two and a half years of varsity competition, he already owns the Warriors' career-scoring record.
He has been on a tear this season. In the Warriors' first 14 games, he massed 19 goals and four assists as the No. 6 Warriors jumped to a school-best ever start of 11-1-2. This follows his startling sophomore year of scoring 24 goals and dishing out six assists.
His electric start makes him the star of the week.
"I have great teammates and they make it easier for me to score and do what I do," the quiet, determined Herrera said. "I have a lot of natural ability, and I'm able to do what I want out there."
Against Maine East last week, he registered a hat trick in running his career scoring totals to a magic 50. (Former Warriors' star Steve Gonzalez, who also played at Northern Illinois, was the former career-leader with 45 goals.)
Maine West coach Mike DiVincenzo said Herrera's unique skill set combined with his unorthodox style of play makes him particularly difficult to defend. "He really plays under control and understands change of pace," DiVincenzo said.
"He has a very mature game. What I mean by that, he's sneaky.
"He kind of lulls a team to sleep and then he really turns it on. He's by far the fastest player on the field; in fact he's one of the rare players who runs probably faster with the ball than without."
Behind Herrera, Maine West is looking to advance on last year's supersectional qualifier. DiVincenzo's squad returns 18 experienced players from last year's team. Herrera is the star on offense; senior keeper Jecsan Torres is his opposite number on the backline.
Gerardo Espinoza, Ozzie Fernandez and the twins, John and Josh DeLeon, are also critical performers. " I think right now we're just going game by game," Herrera said. "We are really close, the whole team, and that's the strength, our defense and our position.
"We're not cocky but we know we can go pretty far," he said.
In soccer, with scoring at a premium, the one great player is a considerable tactical advantage to have at your disposal, DiVincenzo said.
"Nelson is a great finisher who can finish with power or finish with finesse. He could do it by himself, he could do it off a teammate.
"He could do everything."