Clarksville, Ark.-Las Cruces, New Mexico native Ricky Herrera has found a home in Arkansas.
Herrera, a 2000 graduate of Las Cruces High School, has flourished on the University of the Ozarks campus in Clarksville, Arkansas. After nearly two seasons on the soccer team, Herrera has established himself as a dominating force on the field. He already has accumulated an impressive 25 goals and 59 points in his young career. And, his Eagles are on the verge of accomplishing what no other team has ever done in Ozarks’ history: an undefeated season in the American Southwest Conference. “Last year, sometimes we just went with the flow of things, but this season we know we have a chance to win the conference,” said Herrera. Herrera has been a major part of the Eagles’ current 15-0-1 record and first-place standing in the ASC. The 5-10, 150-pound forward now has 14 goals and six assists on the year. He recently earned conference Player of the Week honors after recording seven points and scoring three goals in an important two-game conference stretch. “Ricky has been a large part of our success the past two seasons,” said head coach Dave De Hart. “He takes a pounding every game but he continues to come through for us. He is a quiet kid who never misses training despite taking the physical beating. He lets his play do the talking.” Last season as a freshman, Herrera let his play do the talking by totaling a team-high 11 goals and 25 points. He led U of O to the championship game of the conference post-season tournament after the Eagles were predicted to finish fifth in a preseason poll. For his performance during last season, Herrera was named the ASC Freshman of the Year and earned team Most Valuable Player honors. “Ricky’s best characteristic as a player is his wonderful instinct for scoring goals,” said De Hart. “He has a great ability to get a shot off in the most unusual angles. Goalkeepers aren’t ready when Ricky uses those unique body positions to take a shot.” Herrera’s trek to Arkansas began in the summer of 2000 at a camp in Colorado. He found himself assigned on a team that current Ozarks’ head coach Dave DeHart was coaching. De Hart left a big impression on Herrera. “I liked the way he coached and after talking to him there was no question where I wanted to attend college. When I received other recruiting letters, I just threw them away because my mind was already made up. This was the only school I sent an application to. Dave’s the reason I came here. And he brings out the best in you.” Herrera has adjusted to the rigors of collegiate athletics by staying focused and working hard. His determination and metal toughness easily surpass those of a normal 19-year-old college student. He also takes care of business in the classroom. He has a sold 3.2 grade point average as a business administration major. With all the accolades he has received, Herrera has remained humble and continues to believe in a goal that was inspired by his older brother. Diego Herrera, who was also his high school coach, played professionally in Guatemala and in Germany. “That is definitely one of my goals,” said Herrera referring to playing professionally. “That would be awesome if I could ever play professionally.”