Messiah striker Thomas makes short work of competition



October 13, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

In the tiny collegiate town of Grantham, Pa., 15 miles south of Harrisburg, where Messiah College is, Kelly Thomas is big news in more ways than one.

First of all, the former Wilde Lake standout is a 6-foot striker. That's an impressive credential for any women's soccer player, but even more unusual at a Division III school.

"I don't really have any problem when the ball is in the air," said Thomas, a junior. "It gives me a pretty good advantage considering that most soccer players on the average are 5-foot-5."

Thomas is not just tall but talented on the soccer field, scoring two game-winning goals last week as Messiah (10-0-1) remained unbeaten.

The game-winning goals were two of her five goals this season on 19 shots, giving Thomas a .263 shooting percentage, which is second on the team. She is tied for third in scoring with 10 points.

"One of the main reasons she's starting for us is she gets the team going," said Messiah coach Scott Frey. "She goes hard all the time and has good technical skills. You can't teach height, and at 6-foot she is a strong target player."

Thomas played down her scoring skills, saying, "I'm just the last person to touch the ball before it goes in the goal. Everybody else does all the work."

Thomas walked right into a Division III women's soccer powerhouse, with Messiah finishing second in the nation her freshman season at 23-1. The Falcons lost the 2002 championship game, 1-0, to Ohio Wesleyan.

"Soccer is a way of life at Messiah," Thomas said. "There's nothing else to do here. Soccer and classes."

Another Byers honor

Lebanon Valley's highly decorated senior, J. D. Byers, (Westminster) is a preseason honorable mention choice for Street & Smith's Division III All-America basketball team.

The 5-10, 150-pound point guard is coming off a junior season in which he was Commonwealth Conference Player of the Year, led the league in assists (5.03 a game), was second in scoring (18.8 points a game), and racked up 37 more three-pointers (100) than anyone else in the league.

Byers is just 16 three-pointers behind the all-time record of 236 held by Mike Rhoades.

Bouchelle injured

Two-time Parade All-American Zoe Bouchelle (Notre Dame Prep) has been sidelined with a stress fracture for the No. 3 Penn State women's soccer team, which is 11-1-1 overall and 7-0 in the Big Ten.

The freshman forward started the first four games and played a significant role in victories over two top-10 schools, Portland and Connecticut, when the injury progressed to the point of forcing her out of action.

A school spokesman said Monday there is a chance Bouchelle, the 2003 All-Metro Player of the Year, will not return this season, meaning she would likely be granted a medical hardship and another year of eligibility.

Sophomore midfielder/defender Heather Tomko (North Carroll) has played in 10 games for the Nittany Lions.

Et cetera

Freshman soccer midfielder Chris Ports (John Carroll) leads York in scoring with six goals and six assists, playing a major role in a recent school-record eight-game winning streak that had carried the team to a 10-1 record. However, the eight-game run has been dimmed a little by two straight losses, the second of those setbacks coming to Division III No. 3 Salisbury last weekend. Junior forward/midfielder Jason Blotzer (Northeast-AA) has contributed four goals and one assist to the York cause, freshman midfielder Ray Kuemmer (Patapsco) has three goals and two assists, and freshman defender Matt Beale (Archbishop Curley) has one assist.

Have a Postcard? Contact Bill Free by e-mail at or by phone at 410-833-5349.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.