The only goal

Noah Schmidt continues to chase his dream of playing professional soccer

Justin Martinez/MDN MHS junior Noah Schmidt on the field Thursday in Minot's home opener against Bismarck High at the Optimist Soccer Complex.

Noah Schmidt lifted his shirt in frustration as he walked toward the sideline. His night was over.

Rusty and embarrassing. Those were just a couple of the words the junior forward used to describe his individual performance in Minot High School’s 2-1 loss to the rivaled Bismarck High Demons on Thursday at the Optimist Soccer Complex.

Schmidt struggled to get into a rhythm all night before eventually being forced to exit late in the match with a lingering quad injury.

For those watching from the stands, Schmidt’s self critique is a bit harsh. In reality, the junior showed flashes of potential, exploiting the Bismarck back line on occasion and even setting up senior forward Courage Amsbury on a beauty of a through ball for the Magicians’ lone goal.

Still, Schmidt apologized to head coach Creighton Bachmeier after the game, insisting that he could have done more. The 16-year-old standout is his own biggest critic, and although it might seem like he sets his expectations too high, it’s because the stakes are even higher.

Schmidt is determined to make a career out of soccer one day. Anything outside of sports isn’t in the plans. Neither the jersey he puts on nor the country he resides in is of particular concern. He just wants to play.

“I’ve put in as much time as I can into soccer,” Schmidt said. “I put my body on the line for it everyday. Wherever I can get an offer is where I’m going to go. That’s my main goal in the end.”

Soccer became a part of Schmidt’s life at the age of five when his parents put him in a recreational league. He immediately fell in love with the sport and the rush of scoring goals. From that point on, working on his game became top priority.

As the years went by, Schmidt polished his skills every chance he got. He took strength training sessions, entered a number of development programs and played in clubs that competed across the country, all on his own time.

“It’s so hard to find the motivation to get things done independently,” Bachmeier said. “To see a young kid do what (Schmidt) is doing shows tremendous discipline. He’s got a passion for the game, a great attitude and he genuinely wants to get better every day.”

That hard work paid off in 2017 when Schmidt put together a strong outing in a camp for the Barca Academy, a U.S. soccer development program partnered with professional powerhouse FC Barcelona. The showing earned him an invitation to play in the Mediterranean International Cup, a youth soccer tournament held in Spain.

It’s there that Schmidt gained first-hand experience in playing next-level soccer, as he showcased his skills in front of various academies. Schmidt took that overseas experience and ran with it back home in Minot, cracking the varsity starting lineup in his sophomore season after coming off the bench as a freshman.

The 5-foot-10, 160-pound forward made an immediate impact with his aggressive challenges and precision corner kicks, helping the team to a 14-6-1 (10-2-1) record and a birth in the state tournament. The strong season marked a sharp turnaround for a Magi team that finished with a sub-par record of 9-10-2 (5-3-1) the year before.

“You can just tell Noah is someone who has worked tremendously hard on his craft,” Bachmeier said. “I’ve seen him mature from a freshman who was just holding on to now being the guy that everyone else is trying to keep up with. He definitely has a lot of potential to play some quality soccer in his future.”

Now a junior, Schmidt is ready to lead by example as one of the top guys for his team. Whether it’s during practice or in the crucial moments of a game, the forward is always giving his best effort. It’s this relentless work ethic that has already begun to rub off on some of the younger players in the program.

“I just want to help as much as I can,” Schmidt said. “I learned from the older guys when I started, and now I want to do the same for the younger players. I want them to be better than me someday so that hopefully they can go pro, too.”

Entering the 2018 season, the lights are brighter and the expectations are higher for Schmidt. Every game is a chance to showcase his skills and inch closer toward his goal of playing professional soccer.

Although rough outings like Thursday’s match might happen from time to time, it’s all part of the journey.

“It’s a whole different ball game when you’re one of the main guys now,” Schmidt said. “It can be pretty nerve racking in front of all these people, but that’s something the pros have to deal with everyday, so I’m getting used to it.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.