When Tommy Thompson stepped on campus this past spring, he wasn't known to many people other than his teammates and coaches. After his performance in the home opener for Indiana, it won't take long for fans to notice the California native making waves for the soccer team.
The freshman forward may not have scored either of Indiana's two goals in Friday night's season opening 2-1 victory over Southern Methodist, but he put in the effort to make the tallies possible. His incredible ball handling skills shined bright as the newcomer made SMU's defenders look foolish at times.
"Tommy is a special young player," Indiana coach Todd Yeagley said. "He doesn't play like a freshman. He knows how to bring guys in at the right time."
This was evident from the early going. Whenever the ball found the foot of Thompson, he would turn and make the necessary pullbacks and crossovers to get around his defender and pass the ball off to an open Hoosier. Several times during the match, Thompson was the catalyst in plays that brought the crowd to its feet in anticipation.
In the play that ended with the Hoosiers scoring their first goal, Thompson faked out a defender and passed to an open Matt McKain, whose shot struck the crossbar and fell to Femi Hollinger-Janzen for the score.
"The early going was tough; we got chances, and we knew that if we kept pressuring one would go in," Thompson said.
In the second half, he was able to work himself behind the SMU defense again, this time finding himself along the touchline. With his deftness on the ball, he tip toed along the line and beat three defenders in the process. This led to a pass that got broken up and the ball was cleared from the box to another Hoosier attacker, who was fouled and set up what would be the Hoosiers' game winner.
"You saw some magic in the corner, I haven't seen that on this field in a long time," Yeagley said.
Thompson's footwork and control is astounding for a freshman, and he knows just where to be when trying to maneuver around defenders. He might remind current fans of how senior Nikita Kotlov looked in his opening matches as a freshman. And everyone knows how he has turned out for the Cream and Crimson.