Senior forward led team in goals scored last year

When Michael Schrader was in kindergarten, he came home from school every day and watched the World Cup soccer tournament on TV.

One of the first things he noticed was how the players did such amazing “tricks” with their feet as they swooshed the ball from one side to the other and made defenders stop in their tracks.

“I was hooked,” said Schrader, a senior on the Peoria Notre Dame soccer team. “I fell in love with the game.”

His parents signed him up for soccer, and Schrader began working on his own foot skills.

“I remember I played for the ‘Yellow Bees’ team. I had so much fun,” he said. “There were a lot of Dunlap players on that team, and I’m still friends with a lot of those guys.”

Schrader is not a big kid — “lanky” or “wiry” would be some of the sports terms used to describe him — but he made the ND varsity team as a freshman, and quickly became one of the team’s most prolific goal scorers. He led the team in goals last year as a junior.

ND coach Mike Bare calls him “the most technical player on our team.”

“He works so hard on the technical drills, and he has great footwork,” Bare said. “He has a nice touch on the ball, and he hardly ever makes mistakes.”

Bare said, even though Schrader led the team in scoring, he was actually underrated last year since the team featured so many prominent seniors, including Dominic Bonello, one of the top players to ever wear an Irish uniform.

“That was a great group of seniors, but Michael was a huge part of our team,” Bare said. “When he got the ball in the back of the box, he finished.”

Now that those seniors are gone, Bare will look toward Schrader to provide some leadership for the young team.

That is OK with Schrader.

“I always looked up to the seniors, and I admired their leadership. Now, I want to do what I can to lead this team,” he said. “The biggest thing is just showing the younger players what it takes to work hard everyday in practice and play hard in every minute of every game.”

Schrader reflected on last year’s season, which ended with a state title and a top 10 national ranking.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of becoming a Notre Dame soccer player, so when that final whistle blew, and we were state champions, it was a dream come true,” he said. “I’d like to continue that success this year. You don’t want to be remembered as the senior class that let Notre Dame down.”

Notre Dame opens its season Aug. 28 at home against Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin. On Sept. 4-5, some of the top teams in the nation including Chaminade (Mo.) and Christian Brothers (Mo.) will come to Notre Dame.