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Thursday, 06 August 2015 13:52

Milton grad Sam Novak ready for senior year at UW-W

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Sam Novak has scored 11 goals during his three-year career with the UW-Whitewater men’s soccer team. Sam Novak has scored 11 goals during his three-year career with the UW-Whitewater men’s soccer team. Michael McLoone/UW-Whitewater Athletics

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Sam Novak set two goals upon starting his collegiate soccer career. And while it may not be evident to the casual observer, the results prove he has realized both of them.

“My biggest improvements have to be speed and strength,” Novak said. “I think I’ve gained about 25 pounds of muscle since my senior year of high school.”

The Milton High School graduate and senior-to-be at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater earned second-team Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors his first two seasons with the Warhawks and made the first team last fall.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder was a three-year varsity performer for the Red Hawks, making the Badger Conference’s second team as a sophomore and the first unit his final two seasons as a standout midfielder.

Novak, who hopes to play professionally some day, is a topnotch forward for UW-W coach Jim Launder, whose squad posted a 14-5-4 record and reached the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Novak is excited about the possibilities for this year’s team, which opens competition Sept. 1.

“My team goal is to make a great run in the NCAA tournament and hopefully win the whole thing,” Novak said. “I have high expectations for this upcoming season with all of the talent that is coming in.”

The marketing major will assume a much bigger leadership role, and he knows what it takes to make the jump from the prep level.

“The biggest difference for me was the speed of play,” he said. “Everyone plays quicker at the college level because of the change in athleticism.”

Besides his exposure in a larger conference like the Badger, Novak earned a lot of experience from playing club soccer.

He performed with the Elm Grove Soccer Club and won the State Cup his junior year and suited up for the Elm Grove U-23s and Madison United U-23s during the summers.

That time and effort have helped him make a name for himself with the Warhawks: He finished among the team’s and the league’s top scorers all three years.

Novak scored once and assisted on the game-winning goal in UW-W’s 3-1 victory over Carroll in the first round of the 2014 postseason.

Novak has earned National Soccer Coaches Association of America all-state recognition all three years and received WIAC player of the week honors the last two seasons.

Still, Novak continues to hone his skills and wants to raise the bar again.

“There’s always room for improvement in technical ability,” said Novak, who competed in the 200 and 400 meters in track his senior year but spent most of his time playing club soccer. “I would like to work on my goal scoring.”

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