Niagara-Wheatfield’s Asklar motivated by falling short last year
Saturday November 10, 2012 | By:Dave Ricci, Sports Reporter | Sports
Niagara-Wheatfield boys soccer coach John Coulter said he found the phone belonging to one of his players after a recent practice. Wondering who it belonged to, Coulter said when he touched the screen and saw a newspaper headline of last year’s playoff loss to West Seneca West, there was no doubt in his mind who owned that phone. It was Noah Asklar’s.
“I didn’t have to look any further,” Coulter said. “I knew that it was his. This team being successful is at the forefront of his mind all the time.”
Now a junior captain for the Falcons, Asklar said the loss to West Seneca West in last year’s Section VI Class AA quarterfinals stung him so deeply that it motivated him to come back and play even harder this year.
“I was close with a lot of the seniors last year,” Asklar said. “To see them put in all that work for their senior year, guys like Nick Johnson, Jeff Calkins, Francesco (Strangio) to lose like that when we expected to do so much better...it was stunning. I knew I had to get better, improve myself because I was coming back (this) year so I had to step up.”
Asklar has indeed stepped up. Coulter said Asklar, who plays center/mid, has been the anchor of the team all season and his strong work ethic has pushed others to get better each day.
While Asklar is clearly driven by the sting of last season’s playoff loss, Coulter said it isn’t a selfish form of motivation that pushes Noah. As Coulter said, team success is what Asklar cares about.
“You can’t ask for anything more,” Coulter said. “He’s been a pleasure to coach. As a sophomore last year, he made it a point to take on the best players on the team everyday in practice because he knew that’s what would make him better. And it did. He really did improve his game a lot.”
Asklar was key in the Falcons’ shootout win over Lancaster in the Class AA quarterfinal on Oct.25.
After playing to a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation Asklar, Nick Sperazza and Jordan Calkins all scored on penalty kicks to help the team advance. It was also a big moment individually for Asklar as it helped him defeat an inner demon.
“That was really big, because coming into sectionals, I had already missed two PKs during our season,” Asklar said. “Getting that the third one. It just changed a lot and gave me a lot more confidence like I had before.”
“They were basically the first two (PKs) I ever missed in my soccer career and it was bothering me ever since then,” he added.
With a young roster this season, Asklar knew the onus was on him to help younger kids to get better and push them the way older teammates helped him reach his potential last year.
It’s a role Asklar has taken to heart. He not only stresses the importance of hard work, but also reminds his teammates to make the most of their time in scholastic sports, because it is so fleeting.
“(I tell) them to basically lay everything on the line because you only have just so much time to play high school soccer,” Asklar said. “Before you know it, it’s gone, so there’s no point in not coming out everyday and not trying. Once it’s gone, you’re going to be sad it’s not there anymore. You don’t want to have any regrets.”
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