CROWN POINT | Stojan Krsteski has been on quite a journey in his young life.
The Crown Point senior forward moved to Indiana from his home country, the Republic of Macedonia, three short years ago.
Upon coming to the U.S., Krsteski developed a special set of skills and an affinity for soccer as a toddler.
"I've been playing soccer since I was 3," Krsteski said. "We would be outside for five hours a day playing soccer and I've definitely taken lessons from my home country to here."
One of those "lessons" is learning how to play organized soccer on a team because, as Krsteski explains, they didn't have teams in Macedonia.
"When I first came here, I didn't know high schools had soccer teams," he said. "It was all street soccer there and there are coaches here to teach you tactical stuff.
"The rest is really all common sense in soccer."
In his first year of organized amateur soccer, Krsteski starred at Lowell as a sophomore and still holds the school record of 28 goals in one season.
The next year, his parents decided to uproot the family to Crown Point, as it was a closer location to his parents' jobs. Krsteski actually just made it for the first week of tryouts, but was playing under bad circumstances.
"I sprained my ankle during the first tryout practice," Krsteski said. "I ended up twisting it multiple times, but I never quit with it."
What was unfortunately Lowell's loss was the Bulldogs' gain, as he was still the second-leading scorer on a team that ultimately lost to fellow Duneland foe Lake Central 5-4 in regionals.
"Stojan would go to our training facility a couple hours before practice or a game every day because the ankle was nagging him all year," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "Regardless of the situation, I never question his abilities. He is a hard worker and is very dedicated."
What made it worse was that the Bulldogs were up 3-0 at the half in that game. Krsteski & Co. use that painful loss as fuel for taking the program to the next level.
"This is the most driven team I've had here because that loss has galvanized this team to focus and get to the next level," said Bazin. "Between the regular season and postseason, it's two drastically different seasons for us."
So far, the mission is being accomplished as The Times' No. 1 Bulldogs (3-0, 2-0 DAC) have been firing on all cylinders entering Wednesday's match at LaPorte.
"We have a lot of talent on this team and all want it so much," Krsteski said. "We know each other really well and constantly push each other to get better."