Winning isn't everything, and it certainly isn't the only thing that athletes should be concerned about when playing their respective sport. However, winning is coming easily to the Antietam Mounts, who are currently 7-1, behind the leadership of senior Corey Hertzog.The senior is currently leading the Berks League in scoring by a wide margin. His 17 goals and one assist (35 points) is well ahead of his closest competitor, Erik Weber of Twin Valley (10 goals and one assist for 22 points). He's the power behind the potent Antietam offense this season.
Hertzog started playing soccer with the aid of his parents at the relatively young age of five, and continued by playing in the under-8 leagues. He hasn't stopped playing since.
Hertzog loves everything about the sport, including scoring goals. For Antietam, he plays the position of striker and plays left midfield for his Super-Y team, the Reading Rage.
"The Super-Y team is a group of more advanced soccer players," said Hertzog. "We will be playing for the Nationals in Florida in November."
For each position that Hertzog plays, there is a different responsibility, and he differentiated between the two.
"For striker, you receive the ball and either lay it off or put it in the back of the net. For center midfielder you collect the ball, either pass it outside or up to your strikers, and following the play in case they need to pass back. Midfielders control the ball and strikers score."
There have been a lot of people that have taught him the fundamentals of the game, including coaches Sean Murphy, Antietam coach Deian Seymour, and his father, Ralph.
"My dad has been coaching me ever since I can remember, and has taught me everything about the sport that I know," said Hertzog.
He has been helped in his development by Antietam coach Deian Seymour, and elaborated.
"He has taught me a lot of stuff. He came from Europe, where he played semi-pro soccer. He taught me a lot of European tricks and how to hold the ball more and wait for the other players to come up. He basically filled in the gaps of what I didn't already know."
Coach Seymour elaborated on that a bit, saying that Hertzog is a good overall player, and is one of the few players that can be put anywhere. He will do whatever is asked of him.
"For me, Corey is an excellent scorer, so I keep him up top because that is where he does the best job," said Coach Seymour. "A lot of times, though, I'll have him playing the mid, or if I need to, I'll put him on defense. He is an overall solid player."
Hertzog's teammates have also helped in his development, especially when he gets down on himself after a bad performance. They help to motivate him and that is reciprocated when a teammate is having a bad game, meaning Hertzog helps them as well.
One motivational tool that Hertzog uses is reminding a teammate or two of a game in which they did well, and tell them what they did well. By the next half, those teammates who were down, came out and performed better.
Leadership is also something that Hertzog embraces as a senior on the squad. He doesn't feel too much pressure in being a leader, and said his fellow team-mates accept him as one.
"I think I'm a good leader, but I'm not sure," he said. "They (the other players) think I'm a leader and I try to be one. I try and go out there and do whatever I can for the team."
He said too that he considers himself both a leader who is vocal and leads by example.
"I talk to the kids if they don't understand something, and sometimes when I do a move, people see it and ask me about it. I'll show them the proper technique."
Proper technique was probably one of the things that propelled Antietam over Oley Valley, 1-0 last week, and Hertzog was the scorer of the game's only goal.
"It was a great feeling. We haven't beaten Oley in two years and they're supposedly one of the best teams in Division III. They are a great team, but beating them brought our confidence up a lot. That was a very important game for us."
With that win, Antietam now stands at 7-1 with five games to play, but Hertzog said that the Mounts aren't going to put things in cruise control, indicating that the team was going to play every remaining game as if it were a must-win situation.
"We're happy about the record, but we know that we can't go out there and ease it up on teams. We have to go out there and play like we've been playing, and try to win as many games as we can."
Hertzog attributes the team's fast start to the defense, saying that it's one of the strongest that he's seen all year.
"Our defense keeps us in games, and our goalie (Drew Gilbert) is great. Our midfield is strong all around, and that makes our team, I think, very strong."
Chemistry is important to a team and seems to be clicking for the soccer team so far. Hertzog said that it was weak during the first league game, when the team's only loss came to Wyomissing. But it has been building ever since.
"Our chemistry is exactly where we want it right now. Everyone is doing their job and that's why we're winning."
Hertzog said that there was one thing he could take away from playing soccer at Antietam, and that was the fact that all the players come ready to play everyday and practice hard.
Along those lines, the striker said the one message he would want to pass on to the younger players coming up is to keep the hard work going, and make sure that their work ethic is as strong, or stronger than his has been.
As far as college plans go, Hertzog is trying to get into a Division I school, but is undecided as to where he'll end up. However, he does plan to play soccer wherever he goes. He also said that the two majors he is contemplating are either graphic design or secondary education.
Wherever he decides to go however, although important in the near future, is not as important as helping his current team have a successful season now. Right now, it looks as if Hertzog and his Antietam teammates are going in that direction.