Lightning struck twice for IU junior midfielder Cory Thomas as the Hoosiers dispatched the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 5-0, Friday night at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Thomas was put into the starting lineup for the third time this season Friday and for the second straight match.
The junior used his superb foot skills throughout the 90 minutes, causing Rutgers fits in the penalty box and on the flanks. He got into the penalty box countless times and found himself on the score sheet twice.
The Corydon, Indiana, native has played in all eight of IU’s matches, and his influence on the IU attack has been growing. Friday against Rutgers, Thomas put his mark on the win.
“I told Cory when he came off that, outside the two goals, I thought he was one of our best attackers,” IU Coach Todd Yeagley said. “His unbalancing, his decisions, his composure, his ability to beat guys off the dribble. I’m just really proud of Cory.”
Thomas got his first goal of the season against Northwestern last Sunday. He didn’t waste any time getting his second and third against Rutgers.
His first goal of the night came in the 32nd minute. IU freshman Spencer Glass, who also made a big impact off the bench, sent a ball from the left wing across the top of the six-yard box. All Thomas had to do was make sure his touch found the back of the net. The goal allowed IU to open up the scoring in the game, and the Hoosiers never looked back.
His second goal came mostly because of what IU junior midfielder Austin Panchot did to set it up. Panchot did a great job to weave through a pack of defenders on the left wing and got into the penalty box. From there, he found Thomas with a low cross. Much like the first goal, all Thomas had to do was tap it into the back of the net.
Thomas has now scored three goals in the last two matches. He’s becoming a big-time contributor for the Hoosiers.
“It definitely feels good,” Thomas said. “Regardless, I’m still trying to play my best. If you look at the stats, five, six guys have two, three goals. We don’t care who scores, we’re just trying to play the best and win.”
Thomas was a player a season ago that appeared in 17 matches off the bench with no starts. He scored a goal and tallied an assist as well. In his redshirt freshman season, he played sparingly. Now, Thomas is getting a chance to prove his worth.
If Thomas can provide a consistent threat on the attack for the Hoosiers, it gives IU more depth and another weapon to draw on. A two-goal performance against Rutgers could be just the start for him.
“It didn’t come immediate for him,” Yeagley said. “He’s a great example of a guy in our program that stayed on course and is enjoying everything as he has these final two years left."
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