The Tommies game had everything that it needed to be a joyous, and celebratory occasion. Coach Jon Lowery was taking charge of his 200th game for St. Thomas, they were finally home after a couple of games on the road, and they were still sitting pretty in the Summit League standings, a respectable 6th place and only one point behind Western Illinois.
Two weeks ago, even, the Tommies were on top of the world following a hard fought draw against Denver (then ranked 10th in the nation).
However, no one saw it for what it was soon to become, the start of a four game streak in which the Tommies have found themselves without a goal, and without a chance of winning a game.
So how did this happen? What caused a St. Thomas team that had scored twelve times in ten games, and four times in two games after the start of Summit League play to just completely forget how to put the ball in the back of the net? Let’s have a look back into the past to see where things have gone awry.
10/8 v. #10 Denver
The start of this skid was a happy affair, a 0-0 tie against one of the top teams in the nation. The Tommies weren’t lights out on offense, but they were efficient. They took three total shots during the game, and each one forced a save out of the Denver keeper. They even managed to put a shot pass the keeper, we’ll just ignore for now that it was called back for being offsides.
St. Thomas wasn’t able to score, but you wouldn’t have counted them out entirely. No one would have. Then came Omaha.
10/15 v. Omaha
One shot. That’s the extent of the Tommies attack that would have been troublesome last Saturday in their 1-0 loss. Of the eight shots that were taken by St. Thomas, only one of them required a save from Omaha’s keeper.
That’s… not good. Perhaps more concerning would be that the one shot on target came off the foot of Wes Lorrens, a beast of a man in defense, build-up, and every other stage of the game, but not who you want to be relying on when it comes to scoring (Though he is an acute danger on any set-piece, that man can jump).
10/19 v. Oral Roberts
And so a trend appears. Another game, one more shot on target. This time with an even worse SOG percentage, as they loosed ten shots over the course of a lopsided 5-0 loss. Charlie Holton, was the man who challenged the net this game, a dynamic attacking threat who just hasn’t been much danger since assisting in the game against Green Bay earlier in the season.
10/22 v. Western Illinois
By all accounts, the Tommies probably should’ve had a goal Saturday. They were able to provide plenty of pressure up top, they found themselves in open shooting positions, and they played up a man for seven whole minutes before Wes Lorrens was sent off and the final eight minutes were played 10v10.
Unfortunately the only time the ball was put into the back of the net was from a Western Illinois free kick that just slipped through the hands of Tucker Mann (a normally surefire save for the two time Summit, and one time national defensive player of the week this season), and when Jacek Nickowski seemingly drew the Tommies level in the 89th minute before his goal was cruelly taken away for an offsides call.
So Where Are the Goals?
There’s any number of things that can factor into a goal scoring drought like this one, but there are a few that are on Coach Lowery’s radar. “I think I’d say there’s a lack of instinct up top, y’know we’re young. Carver’s really naive right now, he’s not playing well. Dennis is not playing well… Charlie Holton… Jacek’s not producing numbers that we need right now, but I’m not blaming them, cuz they’re defending so hard for us, and they’re transitioning so hard for us, and they’re digesting the game plan so hard for us, so, with those pillars being so important to them, I don’t think they’re spending a lot of time thinking about scoring goals.”
Another thing to look out for is that the last three games from the Tommies have come over just a week period, with St. Thomas having to take a mid-week trip down to Tulsa, OK for a makeup game against Oral Roberts. That kind of travel and fixture schedule will start to wear down on teams, and you could see the effects on the players against Western Illinois.
Looking forward to when St. Thomas plays against Lindenwood next Saturday, I for one would back the Tommies to end their skid and turn things around, because this is a team that fights often, and fights hard. Coach Lowery would back his team even more than I do, “The appreciation I have, and some credit, for these guys to come out here, publicly fight for St. Thomas, and it’s really hard. So, we’re gutted right now… These guys will put everything into every game, and they have, and we’re not getting the good side of it, but we’re gonna get back to work.”
The Tommies go back to work at home on the 28th against Lindenwood, who sit second to last in the Summit League with only one win to their name and no draws, and it’s not one that you’re going to want to miss. Expect a goal (or two, or three) from this St. Thomas side, because this goalless streak means that we must be building up to something, and you’re going to want to be there when the dam finally breaks.