After a tough string of three losses, the Tommies seem to be trending in the right direction after a hard-fought tie against Green Bay.
The match was truly an end-to-end affair from the beginning, with the first chance of the game coming in just the second minute when Sophmore Charlie Holton made a run onto a through ball and found himself with space behind Green Bay’s backline. His shot would unfortunately sail wide of it’s mark, but it set the pace of the game early, as each of the two goals scored in this game would be found within the next 13 minutes.
The first was a nice solo effort from Green Bay’s Michael McDougall. He took the ball from the right line, cut inside, dribbled by a couple of defenders, and calmly put it just inside the right post to give the Phoenix an early lead.
The Tommies weren’t content to just allow this to happen though, as they continued applying early pressure to the Green Bay goal. They had two chances in quick succession, as McRay Drong found Jacek Nickowski (A couple of Minneapolis City SC Crows connecting at the collegiate level) at the edge of the box. After a beautiful turn, Nickowski found space for a shot, only being denied by a last ditch dive from Green Bay keeper Tobias Jahn, who managed to deflect the ball onto the woodwork and back into play. The Tommies kept the pressure on, and won the second ball, and this time it was Charlie Holton’s turn to find Nickowski, playing a perfect through ball that left Nickowski with acres of space and his second goal of the season.
And Coach Lowery was loving every second of that goal.
“I mean, that was a high-level goal that Charlie started for us,” said Lowery. “He springs a runner, we get a service and a goal, that’s St. Thomas soccer textbook right there.”
Going forward, you can expect even more of the same it seems. When asked about St. Thomas’ propensity to get it’s defenders forward (special shoutout to Isaac Eckroth who was up and down the field the entire game creating combinations along the line and sending in crosses) and their focus on attacking combinations,
Coach Lowery doubled down on his teams attacking forte.
“I think if we’re going to be successful: we’re going to be good on the break, we’re going to be productive on the counter, and we’re gonna have to be really good when we get into wide edge spaces.”
The rest of the game passed without much incident thanks to a stalwart Tommies defense. Oliver Bielevedlt, who joined St. Thomas after spending a few years at the Amsterdam AFC youth academy, made a crucial sliding tackle in his own box to keep Green Bay from having a one on one with keeper Tucker Mann. And Mann stepped up big in his own way late in the game, pushing Kajus Kontautas to the outside and forcing his shot over the goal when finally faced with a dangerous one on one in the 88th minute.
The Tommies will look to carry this momentum into the weekend as they open Summit League play against Eastern Illinois this Saturday in St. Paul, and Coach Lowery is eager for the challenge.
“I know a lot of people might be looking at our start to the season and wondering who we are, but there’s a group of guys in the locker room waiting right now, and we’re gonna get back to work tonight. And we know that a lot has changed in the transition [to NCAA Division 1], but one of the things we can control is where we finish in the Summit League regular season. And that’s all we have right now, so we’re gonna go all in on it, and our goal is simple, we wanna finish as high up the Summit League table as we can, and if we can get three points at home on Sunday [the game is actually Saturday at noon], that starts us in the direction we wanna go.”