Pat Flynn was an incandescent star for Naperville Central in 2011, scoring a school-record 30 goals to lead Naperville Central to its second consecutive state runner-up finish.
When he graduated, many people figured the high-flying Redhawks would come down to earth. But lost in the brightness of Flynn’s play was a sophomore forward just coming into his own.
Jordi Heeneman had six goals and five assists that year, then blossomed into a leader last fall, scoring 14 goals and five assists as the Redhawks went 19-3-2 and finished third in state.
Flynn is Central’s career scoring leader with 53 goals, but Heeneman is on pace to pass Chris Prince for second place. Heeneman has 36 goals, two behind Prince.
“I think it shows the quality of player he is,” Naperville Central coach Troy Adams said. “Central has been a very good program for a long time, so those guys that are on that list are very good players. It means something.”
Heeneman, who has narrowed his college choices down to NCAA Division II programs Mercyhurst, Pennsylvania and Indianapolis, never envisioned having this type of success.
“As a sophomore, that was the best team I’ve ever been on, so it took a lot of hard work to earn a starting spot,” Heeneman said. “I’ve had to work my way into a leadership role but I think it’s been going good so far.”
That is an understatement.
Heeneman has 16 goals, including five game-winners, and six assists this fall as the Redhawks have gone 8-1-4.
Heeneman has produced those stats against a tough schedule, with limited playing time against lesser opponents because Adams substitutes liberally if he gets up by three goals.
Heeneman succeeds because of his blazing speed and powerful shot, but his talent isn’t merely physical.
“I think making runs is one of my best attributes,” Heeneman said. “I can see where the ball is going to be before someone plays it, so [I like] making curling runs trying to get to the ball.”
Trying to stop Heeneman is easier said than done, according to teammate and defender Sean Flading.
“Defending Jordi is a nightmare,” Flading said. “He gets the ball up front and he’ll have his back to you and you think you’re doing a good job with him with his back turned to the goal.
“Next thing you know he’s put some move on you and he’s got the best shot I’ve ever seen as far as Illinois soccer’s gone. He’s the fastest guy I know.”
With Heeneman in the lineup, the Redhawks have been shut out just once in their last 69 games. One player who did keep him in check was Hinsdale Central senior Evan Floersch, an Emory recruit.
Floersch held Heeneman scoreless during a 1-1 tie on Sept. 15, but was so drained afterward that he vomited on the field.
“He’s by far the best offensive player I’ve seen so far this season,” Floersch said. “He’s a great player. It’s a privilege to play against him, but defensively we were prepared. [My] coach says sit there and delay him, keep your feet moving, keep him in front of you, and it worked.”
Heeneman’s main goal is to lead Central to a state title. That will require him to continue his torrid pace.
“I could never do it by myself,” Heeneman said. “I have great midfielders behind me to give me the ball. I didn’t really ever think I’d be this close but I’ll keep going as hard as I can the rest of the year, see how many I can get.”