Maine South’s Michael Banas playing with confidence after neck injury

SHARE Maine South’s Michael Banas playing with confidence after neck injury
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EVANSTON — Around this time last year, Maine South senior Michael Banas experienced one of the scariest moments one can have on a soccer field.

Banas soared for a header on a sunny Saturday in Northfield on Sept. 28, 2013, but was undercut by a New Trier player. He wasn’t able to break his fall and landed on his head and neck.

The worst-case scenario was immediately apparent to anybody who was there that day, including Banas himself.

“I was just in so much shock when it happened,” Banas said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to be paralyzed, I didn’t know what was going to happen. All I did was hope for the best.”

Then, with a smile, he added: “I wanted to keep on playing, but they wouldn’t let me.”

Banas had movement in his extremities right after falling, but he was instructed to lie still on his back until the paramedics arrived in an ambulance.

“Anything with the neck, you have some pretty deep concerns,” Maine South coach Dan States said. “It was good because he was able to move his extremities right away, so we felt he was OK. But anything with the neck, you have to be precautionary.”

Banas said he felt OK as he lay on the turf other than having a little pain in his neck, but “every 10 seconds, they’d make me squeeze my hands and move my toes, just to make sure I wasn’t paralyzed.”

At the hospital, Banas was diagnosed with a bruised ligament in his neck. He was told to not move his neck in order to let the injury heal, and he wore a neck brace for a month.

Banas returned for the postseason, but he said he couldn’t help but think about his fall against New Trier while he was on the field during his initial games back.

That’s not the case this season, however.

Banas is back in the center of the field for the Hawks as a defensive midfielder. Succeeding in that role requires players to be aggressive, confident and willing to tackle.

“He has good size,” States said. “That gives him a long reach to the ball. He’s a very good poke tackler, and then stands guys up in the middle of the park very effectively.”

For Maine South, Banas is also needed to start counterattacks and serve as an eraser in front of a relatively inexperienced back line. Defensive midfielders are vital in thwarting opponents’ offensive attacks.

An important aspect of doing that is winning headers so that balls don’t fall in front of the defense, Banas said. Banas went up for headers with confidence during Evanston’s 2-0 victory over Maine South on Sept. 16, showing that there aren’t any lingering mental effects from last season’s scary neck injury.

“I really try not to think about it,” Banas said. “I just try to go for it.”

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