Boys soccer: How Naperville North's Iverson went from fearful to fearsome

 
By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/9/2018 10:47 AM
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  • Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comColin Iverson of Naperville North High School is the All-Area Team Captain in boys soccer in DuPage County.

    Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comColin Iverson of Naperville North High School is the All-Area Team Captain in boys soccer in DuPage County.

On a rainy autumn day a few years ago, Colin Iverson found himself praying that Naperville North's junior varsity boys soccer game against Morton would be canceled.

Last Saturday that once-scared-to-death kid scored the game-winning goal in the Class 3A title game for the second straight season with one of his signature headers to help the Huskies win their third championship in a row.

What a difference a few years made for the senior who will continue to play soccer at Bowling Green State University.

"I had a JV1 game my freshman year and I had heard how good Morton was so I was extremely scared to play," he said. "It was raining so I prayed for it to get canceled, but we played. We won that game and I think I had a pretty good game. I thought, 'Hey, I'm a freshman and I can contribute to this team and program and shouldn't be afraid to give my all.'"

He's definitely given his all to the Huskies and he's been named the 2018 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Boys Soccer Team Captain.

"It's really crazy to think that at that point I felt more nervous for that game then to play in state title games," he said. "I think each year I got more comfortable with my role with the team and as those roles became bigger I was ready for them."

Was he ever.

Iverson scored more than three times as many goals as Naperville North allowed this season. Reread that if you need to.

And he did all of the scoring not as a striker, but as a center back. And he kept opponents from scoring as the only returning starter of the back line, although the Huskies did have All-American Tommy Welch in net. Iverson finished with 18 goals and 8 assists and the Huskies allowed just 5 goals in 26 games.

"I think I'm more impressed with allowing so few goals," he said. "With three of our guys not starting last year and coming in and playing so amazing was beyond everyone's expectations."

After the past two seasons expectations were once again high for the Huskies and they didn't fall short of them. Iverson wouldn't allow that to happen, and nothing intimidates Iverson these days either.

"It's been great to watch him grow, especially these past three years," Huskies coach Jim Konrad said. "He's bigger and stronger and he's really embraced the physical part of the game."

In "The Office," Iverson's favorite TV show, there's an episode where one employee (Jim Halpert) is trying to impress his interim boss (Charles Miner) by claiming to be a talented soccer player.

Charles takes a shot, but Halpert fearfully ducks away -- Iverson would never back away from such a challenge -- and the ball finds the face of his co-worker (Phyllis Vance), causing her to swallow a dental crown.

"He embraces the physical part of the game on the ground and in the air," Konrad said. "He crashes the goal on restarts while getting punched by the goalkeeper and hit by the best defender so he's going to take his lumps, but he's willing to do that. And on defense they're throwing guys at him and screening him to try to get him out of the way, but he fights his way through them to win the ball for us."

Offensively, Iverson has blossomed into a grand master on restarts. While he does the finishing, his teammates also have figured out how to get him the ball in opportunistic yet tight spaces.

"Having done it for three years, I think he's learned how to find the spot and for guys like Ty (Konrad) to find him," Konrad said. "Colin has a gift for doing it."

There's a culture of excellence at Naperville North and it's something that program has sustained over more than a decade with 16 DuPage Valley Conference titles, 15 regional titles, eight sectional titles and three state titles since 2000. Being a part of something bigger than himself -- a program with such high expectations -- has driven Iverson.

"I just love the culture here at North," Iverson said. "We really do play for each other here and I love these guys. It's not about playing for me or for the fans. It's all about the team and it works and we're able to be successful and enjoy the season more because of that."

Iverson collected all-state and all-conference accolades while piling up numbers that will leave many scratching their heads unless they saw him play. You just don't see two-way players that make such an impact in so many ways like Iverson did.

He ended his three years as a Huskie with 43 goals and 22 assists, which is especially amazing when you consider that his former teammate, Chris Sullivan, the 2015 All-Area captain, finished with 50 goals as a midfielder.

While he's a game-changer on the field, Iverson plans on changing lives off it.

He's already actively involved in the Special Olympics and plans on studying special education in college and then following his parents in becoming a teacher. And maybe someday a soccer coach.

"Since my parents are teachers they were able to get me started beginning in middle school in helping out those with special needs," Iverson said. "I've learned a lot working from them and I plan on majoring in special education."

His father, Dan Iverson, is the girls cross country coach at Naperville North, and Colin learned a lot about being a high school athlete back when he would tag along with his dad as a youngster. It's certainly has paid off enormously.

"I think being around here when I was so young helped me fall in love with the school," he said. "It can be interesting at times having him around at North coaching, but it's also really been a lot of fun."

Now that high school soccer is over, it's still not totally sunk in yet for the three-time state champion. That simply allows him more to relish all of it.

"Every year has been special because we've added new guys and we all want to win so much," he said. "It's crazy hard trying to put it all into words. I absolutely never expected to do all this. It's been amazing."

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