Young goalkeeper continues to live dream while leading Panthers


Josh Saxton

Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Novotny has a 3.0 GAA in eight games this season.

Maher Kawash, Staff Reporter

At the age of 13, sophomore goalkeeper Mike Novotny did something that a goalie almost never does; he punted the ball from his own goal and made it into the other team’s goal.

That small feat is just one of the few things that Novotny has accomplished in his soccer career, as he is now the starting goalkeeper for the Eastern men’s soccer team as a sophomore.

“That was probably the craziest thing to ever happen to me,” Novotny said. “I got a little help from a bad bounce over the keeper, but it was still crazy and I didn’t know how to react.”

Novotny grew up in St. Charles, Ill. and went to St. Charles East High School where he was a three-year varsity starter and was named to the Kane County All-Area team in 2013.

Novotny started 14 games last season as a freshman and has started all eight games so far this season.

“I am very fortunate to be in a position where not most sophomore college goalkeepers are in,” Novotny said. “This has been one of my dreams since I was a kid, and actually making that dream come true is crazy.”

Novotny came into the season with a solid goals allowed average of 1.82, but has seen that rise to 3.01 due to some of the elite competitors that the team has faced this season.

Novotny has learned some of his soccer skills from his family as his father played in college, as well as his brother, who plays professionally in England.

“I would love to be able to keep playing soccer after college and go to England like my big brother did,” Novotny said.

Coming from a family full of soccer players, Novotny also receives a lot of support from his family and his number one fan, his mother.

“She gets so nervous whenever she comes to my games because she always thinks I might get hurt,” Novotny said.

Family seems to play a big role in his life and soccer career.

“My family is always there to support me through anything in life, and it just doesn’t get much better than that,” Novotny said.

After starting for three years on varsity in high school, Novotny said his favorite memory was during his senior year when his school played one of the top teams around and earned the shutout in a 2-0 win.

After that big game, Novotny verbally committed to be a Panther.

“I chose to play at Eastern because when I visited, everything just clicked, and I knew that this is where I wanted to continue my academic and soccer career,” Novotny said.

Novotny has had a lot of success at Eastern in just two years but on Aug. 30, Novotny had one of the best games of his career when the Panthers took on Lipscomb. He held Lipscomb to one goal and made seven saves, helping Eastern get their first win of the season.

“My goal is to keep improving my weaknesses and to prepare myself for the next level after college,” Novotny said.

Novotny has proven to be a leader on the team, and he has impressed coach Kiki Lara as well.

“Novotny is someone we all know we can count on to make a critical save,” Lara said. “He is also an excellent team member in the locker room, and he brings that cultural aspect that we look for in players.”

Lara has made an impact on Novotny’s career in just his first year as head coach.

“Coach Lara has created that family environment, and his trust in us all really has made a huge difference on and off the field this year,” Novotny said.

Novotny has proven to be an important part of the Panthers’ success in his first two years of college soccer, and he will look to continue to be a leader on this team.

“It is truly an honor and blessing to be where I am now,” Novotny said. “I get to wake up every morning and do what I love to do.”


Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]