Fuad Abuzerr likes to think of himself as “a game-changer.”
“I feel like I can decide games as a goalie,” he said. “My team relies on me as a leader. I like to be the one who can change a game, stopping lots of goals or doing whatever I can to help my team win.”
A senior goalie at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, Abuzerr has helped his team to some huge wins this season.
The Astros are co-champions of the South Suburban Red, along with Reavis, after posting an 8-3 league mark.
Shepard earned a dramatic shootout win over Bremen on Sept. 14, then knocked off Evergreen Park the following day to seal the title, the Astros’ first conference crown in more than a decade.
“It feels great,” Abuzerr said. “As a senior, I want to go out being proud of my team and all the guys. You want to leave your mark on the program and then hope it keeps going up from here.”
Abuzerr made two big saves in the shootout against Bremen as the Astros knocked off the South Suburban Blue champion Braves, who were previously unbeaten in conference play.
“Games like (the win over Bremen) make me want to play soccer my whole life,” he said.
Shepard coach Tim Eyer was impressed by his goalie’s play going into mid-October.
“Fuad’s unbelievable,” he said. “He’s just playing on a whole different level right now.”
Abuzerr’s road to star goalie started when he was much younger and always found himself around a soccer ball.
“I’ve been playing almost my whole life,” he said. “I was always kicking a ball around my back yard. Then my parents got me into organized soccer and now I’m here.
“When I was younger, I used to switch between goalie and the field. Once I got into high school, freshman year, they needed a goalie and I said I’d be the goalie. I’ve stuck it out all four years. Now I’m here starting on varsity.”
Abuzerr said the key to being a good goalie is having good instincts.
“It’s all about decisions,” he said. “You have to decide when to come out of the net and when to stay in. When you make that decision, you have to commit 100 percent.”
Abuzerr had five shutouts in the regular season and recorded a goals-against average of 1.53 as the Astros entered the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record.
The success has been greatly enjoyed by a Shepard squad that spent the past couple of seasons in the bottom half of the South Suburban Red.
“I love my teammates,” Abuzerr said. “You have to stick together when it’s hard. You have to be a team in good times and bad.”