The More in Thomas More could stand for “more goals”
The Thomas More Saints women’s soccer team, the biggest gainer in the Bennettrank D3 women’s soccer rankings last week, is pouring on the goals and is out to a 4-0-0 start with its latest win Sunday, a 5-0 drubbing of Spalding University.
With that win, Thomas More, a small college in the northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati, now has scored 18 goals in four games (4.5 per game). The Saints’ defense isn’t too bad either – the team has given up just one goal in those four games.
Thomas More jumped 16 places in the Bennettrank D3 women’s soccer rankings to No. 37 last week.
It’s not a total surprise – the Saints are coming off last year’s record-setting campaign in which the team had an 18-match unbeaten streak, including 14 straight wins. The Saints also had a particularly stingy defense last year, recording 17 shutouts, as they progressed to the NCAA DIII sectional semifinal, where they lost 2-1 to Capital.
The defensive excellence has been expected by Coach Jeff Cummings. The team returned all its defensive starters, and there’s even some disappointment in the back that the team let in the goal it did.
Defensive strength is “kind of a staple,” Cummings told Bennettrank. “We’re not going to give up much.”
As for the offensive output, Cummings credits a strong tendency for his players to share the ball, which has spread the offense, keeping defenses from being able to key too much on any one attacker.
“Our kids up top are being extremely unselfish, they’re playing some balls to each other that sometimes, I’m almost like ‘Guys, keep that for yourself,'” said Cummings. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Leading the Saints has been junior forward Olivia Huber, who has scored eight of the team’s 18 goals. The strong early season showing by Huber, a product of northern Kentucky’s Newport Central Catholic, follows her conference leading campaign last year, when she tallied 22 goals and eight assists.
Cummings has expected another big year from Huber.
“We knew she’d score goals,” Cummings said. “But I don’t think you ever think a kid would have 8 goals after 4 games.”
The unselfish play that Cummings said has helped Huber tally so many goals is also being reciprocated – Huber has four assists as well.
The Saints have also gotten offensive help from newcomer Julia Flagge-Echols. The freshman from Colerain, Ohio has added three goals and four assists for Thomas More so far this year.
Cummings has used four different goalkeepers, though Megan Barton and Sydney Polster have gotten most of the minutes in goal. Polster came up with five saves while playing one half against Wittenberg, which is the only team to score a goal so far this year against Thomas More. Wittenberg got it’s goal in the other half of that game, against starting goalkeeper Megan Barton.
“For goalkeeper, it’s still a battle,” said Cummings. “We want things to be a battle.”
Cummings said the team benefited from a preseason training trip to Costa Rica, that had players mentally on the same page earlier than might otherwise have been the case, but he doesn’t expect the season to be easy.
Thomas More’s upcoming non-conference schedule includes last year’s Heartland Conference champions Hanover, and Transylvania, which also made the NCAA tournament last year.
“You take a day off, it could kill you,” Cummings said.
The Saints are next in action Sept. 12 at DePauw.