A Look Back & A Look Ahead For The PAC Soccer Champs

By John D’Abruzzo

PITTSBURGH – Thomas More College collected some extra hardware for its trophy case last weekend. Both its men’s and women’s soccer teams captured Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships Nov. 8 at Highmark Stadium.


A sunny start to the day on Saturday at Highmark Stadium for the PAC Soccer Championships.

What started out as a sunny and beautiful fall afternoon down in Pittsburgh’s Station Square, slowly became brisk, chilly and overcast by the end of the day. Nevertheless, fans from both Thomas More and Grove City made up nice-sized crowds as the conference took its soccer championships away from the college campus and into the home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend either game, don’t worry. Both games can be streamed online on the PAC Sports Network home page at www.pacstream.net or on the Network’s archive page.

The two-game event started with the men’s match between the Saints and Wolverines, and that contest began with a pretty interesting play. Just five minutes into the game, Thomas More’s senior forward Jake Plummer drew a red card after he used his hand to knock down a Grove City shot. Despite losing a man for the rest of the match, Thomas More never appeared as if they were shorthanded. And while the Wolverines battled hard the entire game, they were unsuccessful with each opportunity.

Just when most might have begun to think that the game could end up in overtime or possibly a shootout, senior defender Pat Jacobson (Washington Borough, N.J.) came through for the Saints when he booted the lone goal of the game. From the far side of the field, Jacobson drilled a 30-yard shot that hit the top corner of the net and scored an unassisted goal at the 58:39 mark.

“I was able to get the ball from my teammate [senior defender] Jack Little,” Jacobson told the PAC Sports Network after game. “I saw an opening so I cut across. I told myself I was going to hit this [shot] and hope it goes in. All of my teammates then were screaming. It was just so surreal.

“That goal means so much for me. I haven’t scored that much in my career, so it meant I was able to give back to my team for all they have given me.”

While Jacobson was as named the Foster Law’s Player of the Game, his teammate, senior goalkeeper Matt Kees (Covington, Ky.) also deserved a lot of credit in the win. The veteran goalminder was vocal the entire match and helped set up the Saints’ defense during each corner kick attempt by Grove City. Kees made nine saves to record the shutout.

The victory gave Thomas More its sixth consecutive men’s conference championship. The Saints also improved to 17-2-1.

Soon after that game ended, the women’s teams from the same two institutions took the pitch.

Thomas More entered the game as the three-time defending champion and was believed to be the heavy favorite. Grove City still hung with the Saints early and tried to control possession during the first half. Once the second half started, however, the Wolverines lost their momentum.

Thomas More’s Julia Flagge-Echols (Colerain, Ohio) displayed impressive footwork and ball control the entire match. The freshman phenom netted the game’s lone score a little more than two minutes into the second half. Star junior forward Olivia Huber (Woodlawn, Ky.) earned the assist. Huber also displayed her offensive presence and had many shots on goal.

“Our goal is to win,” Flagge-Echols told the PAC Sports Network after being named the Foster Law’s Player of the Game. “Every game, we have to work harder than the last time.”

The Saints held on the rest of the way to win their fourth-straight and fifth overall conference crown. The shutout also set a new school record as it was their 19th of the season. Ranked 10th in the nation, Thomas More improved 20-1 and earned an automatic bid into this weekend’s NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Thomas More’s home field, The Bank of Kentucky Field in Crestview Hills, was selected by the NCAA earlier this week to host the first two rounds on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16. Maryville (Tenn.) College, Emory University and Kenyon College also will participate in the two-day tournament. Thomas More and Maryville will play at 11 a.m. Saturday before Emory and Kenyon take the field at 1:30 p.m. Maryville enters this match 14-6-1 after winning the USA South Athletic Conference Tournament.

Thomas More’s men’s team, on the other hand, also advances to the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament and will face North Park University at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Kenyon College’s Mavec Field. North Park University is 13-5-1 and earned an at-large bid after finishing as a semifinalist in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) tournament last week.