Fazekas’ bumpy ride to signing with development league

Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior and goalkeeper, poses for a photo with Richard Goss, goalkeeper, and Brice Gardener, goal keeper, on the Midwestern State Soccer field. Photo by Harley Warrick

Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior and goalkeeper, poses for a photo with Richard Goss, goalkeeper, and Brice Gardener, goal keeper, on the Midwestern State Soccer Field. Photo by Harley Warrick

About 18 Mustangs for the men’s soccer team are playing in the Premier Development League this summer to help maintain physical conditioning and prepare for the upcoming season. Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior and goalkeeper, signed with Grand Rapids in Michigan for the summer.

“I’m signing there because I love the game and I want to come back; like how I see it, the more I play the more I’ll be ready, like more experience,” Fazekas said.

Head Coach Doug Elder said Fazekas needs to keep playing. Elder adds that 80 percent of the players play in the Premier Development League all over the country.

“The more he plays, the more it prepares him for game situations,” Elder said.

Fazekas said more playing time, training, and competition will make him a stronger player for the next season.

“I just want to come in my senior season here, be as fit and as ready to play as I can to help the team out the best I can,” Fazekas said. “A new environment just to refresh and stay involved in the game.”

Excited to get to Michigan, Fazekas is looking forward to the experience and the atmosphere.

“It gets you excited about coming back here and get connections as well,” Fazekas said.

He adds that a new environment revamps everything.

Grand Rapids is a newer program and is in its second season. The team averages 4,500 fans per game.

Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior, punches the ball away from the net during practice held on the Midwestern State Soccer Fields. Photo by Harley Warrick

Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior, slaps the ball down during practice held on the Midwestern State Soccer Field. Photo by Harley Warrick

Originally coming to MSU in 2010, Fazekas was a member of the Final Four team. He played here during the 2011, 2014, and 2015 seasons.

Fazekas said playing soccer runs in his family. His older brothers played soccer; however, his father and uncle played at MSU, this influenced his college decision.

“It just kind of fit. I had other offers, but it felt right,” Fazekas said.

When recruiting Fazekas, Elder saw the potential that he could add to the team. 

“Noah’s a good kid. He’s Midwestern,” Elder said. “He knows what our program is about.”

After Fazekas redshirted the 2010 season and played in 2011, he got in some trouble and was pretty much cut from the team, according to Elder.

Elder said Fazekas contacted the coaches two years later wanting a second chance. Elder added that Fazekas loves Midwestern, loves the team and loves what the team is doing.

“I respect that, especially with playing on a hurt knee,” Elder said.

Since Fazekas’s junior year of high school, he has dealt with right leg injuries that have set him back multiple times.

“My junior year of high school was my first major surgery right below the right knee. I had a tumor in my leg like the size of a baseball. That kept me out about eight months,” Fazekas said.

They had to remove the tumor and rebuild the bone.

Fazekas said he had a right groin injury while playing for the Saint Louis Lions in 2013.

“I had to have surgery and that kept me out another three months,” Fazekas said.

About two weeks after being released from the groin injury, Fazekas tore his anterior cruciate ligament for the first time while playing indoor soccer. After having another surgery, he was out for about seven months.

After returning to MSU in 2014, he again tore his ACL one week into two-a-days. He sat out that season and had another surgery to reconstruct it.

“I was feeling great, then this summer again tore my ACL and decided not to go have surgery. If I had another surgery, it would keep me out two years,” Fazekas said.

Elder said he thought Fazekas would be done playing soccer after tearing his ACL for a third time. Fazekas’s torn ACL hurts his performance a little bit and it’s still hard for him to push off his right leg.

Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior, throws the ball back to some players during Alumni Week, in the Midwestern State Soccer Fields. Photo by Harley Warrick

Noah Fazekas, mass communication junior, throws the ball back to some players during Alumni Weekend, at the Midwestern State Soccer Field. Photo by Harley Warrick

“It’s really a testament of his toughness for him to play through that,” Elder said.

Fazekas said he rehabbed his knee to strengthen other muscles and he played nine games in the 2015 season. At Lubbock Christian University, he re-injured his knee and did not step on the pitch until the home game against West Texas A&M, seven games later.

“I don’t know anyone else who can tear his ACL three times and still be out there playing,” Thomas Parides, business management sophomore and forward, said. “His mindset’s unreal.”

Fazekas said he believes his knee injuries are helping him improve as a player with the new found confidence that comes from playing injured. Fazekas added the more he plays, the less his knee hurts.

“I try to just go out there and play when I’m on the field,” Fazekas said, “Adrenaline takes over.”

Parides said even with injuries he is going to give his all, one hundred percent.  

“Never hesitate,” Parides said. “It just doesn’t work at Midwestern if you go halfway.”

Elder said he hopes Fazekas has a good summer and comes back ready to compete for a starting spot.

“Brice [Gardner] is back, [Richard] Goss is back, Taylor Lampe is a good young keeper,” Elder said. “The competition is going to be there.”

Parides said playing injured definitely changes your mindset. Playing with injuries while also trying to win a starting spot is difficult.

“I have to go out there thinking that I’m the toughest player out there and strongest player,” Parides said.

Fazekas said he plans to return to MSU in the fall for his senior season, then graduate the following semester. He plans to continue playing soccer after he graduates.

“I don’t know if there will be opportunities, but I’d like to keep playing as long as I can,” Fazekas said.

Fazekas said he would like to take his soccer skills to the next level and maybe play in the United Soccer League or the North American Soccer League.

“Another reason to sign for Grand Rapids is because they’re looking into moving to the USL or NASL in the next couple of years. I’d like to keep playing there or go overseas,” Fazekas said.

 Parides said after college, Fazekas has a chance to play at the next level.

“The only thing that would hold him back, is his injuries, but he definitely has the work ethic,” Parides said.

Elder said he hopes Fazekas isn’t doing any long-term damage. He worries about his longevity because he doesn’t want him to hurt it so bad that he can’t play with his children in the future.

“It’s stupid [to play] for one or two years to not be able to throw your kid up in the air,” Elder said.

After an end of season meeting, Elder expressed Fazekas has a drive, passion, personality and love for the game. Elder thinks he should be a coach.

“Like coach said, he could definitely be a great coach because I know when I’m out there, he’s pushing me to get better,” Parides said.

Parides added that even in the training room, Fazekas is pushing him to get healthy and fit.

“When I’m healthy, we always go out there for some extra shooting and he’s definitely very encouraging,” Parides said. “He would be a great coach and he should definitely look into that.”

No matter what the obstacle, Fazekas said he fights back so he can continue to play soccer.

“I want to do what I love for as long as I can,” Fazekas said.

Additional reporting by Hunter Porter and Robert Hillard