Boys soccer: Palatine's Noga named Cook All-Area Captain

Two seasons ago, Palatine finished with a dreadful 2-13-3 overall season.

Then, with the addition of a few key players, including a quartet of future stars back from club, the 2022 team finished a respectable 10-9-2 to help lay the groundwork for the Pirates to be among the elite in the MSL this fall, and all around the area.

One of those aforementioned stars was Karol Noga.

The soft-spoken Pirates captain, who plays the nine or 10, but can easily pivot to an attacking eight or defensive midfielder with equal brilliance, has an overall game that has so many layers that it made him a premier piece in the Pirates' success.

Because of this, and plenty more reasons, Noga has been named the Captain of the 2023 Daily Herald Cook County All-Area boys soccer team.

"Karol is an amazing young man who will become very successful in life because of his work ethic, and with how he treats people," said Pirates coach Aaron Morris.

"(He) is a quiet yet powerful leader of our team, who leads by example, who every player in our program knows.

"He is not as vocal as others. He lets his game do the talking, but he is always someone you want to be around because of his maturity and sense of humor, and it has been a pleasure of a lifetime to be able to coach him."

"I am so glad that my friend and teammate Damien Drzewiecki convinced me to come back from club to play my last two years of high school soccer," said Noga.

"To be a part of a great group of players, who play for each other, our school, and to be a source of pride to the community, makes it a real honor to be named the All-Area Captain."

The two-year resume of Noga is quite impressive.

The two-time all-MSL, and 2023 MSL West Player of the Year, claimed 23 goals, 20 assists, and more than enough votes to be the No. 1 player in the room to earn All-State honors as well.

"Karol loves to be out there, and truly enjoys the game, and it shows in his play," said Morris.

"He is an easy going young man, but when the whistle blows, he is locked in and willing to do whatever it takes for his teammates, and (play) where our team needs him the most."

A scouting report on Noga might read like this:

• Makes the role of winger his own as he likes to pick the ball up from wide, then glide inside, always comfortable combining with others, or weaving between defenders with his impressive ability to make sharp changes of direction.

• Confident with either foot makes Noga unpredictable. He also combines his destructive ball-winning skills, and a willingness to hunt the ball down with high level athleticism.

• Noga is a tireless box-to-box warrior, who has a great burst off the back foot to join or build the attack, and once the ball is on his foot, his touch is clean, and his passing is crisp.

"Soccer gives me a lot of joy, and I play with a lot of passion, desire and energy, regardless of where coach needs me to be," said Noga, who helped lead the Pirates to their first MSL title since 2012, and undefeated season until a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in its sectional final ended a magnificent 20-1-3 year.

Noga was unable to compete in the Pirates' regional final victory after suffering a torn ACL, which will require surgery in mid-November, but not curtail the interest of several college teams who are in pursuit.

"With Karol, Jordan Mok and Andrew Kania, last year, and Sebastian Khoury returning from club this year, plus our keeper, Alex Ganji, we've been able to get them all on board with our program to raise the level all across the board," said Morris.

"The great thing about all of them is they came in not acting like they were better than everyone else. Instead, they came in, and did everything that we asked, and were the hardest workers in training.

"I cannot be more proud of this group led by Karol, who has meant so much to our school, soccer program, and the community of Palatine."

John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comPalatine's Karol Noga controls the ball against Rolling Meadows in a boys soccer game in Palatine on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
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