Trinity Lutheran boys soccer coach Brandan Tabeling said Trent Shoemaker raised his level of play in the Warrior Cup at Scottsburg on Sept. 15-16, and it carried over to matches this past week, especially Saturday in the Cougar Cup.

Shoemaker scored Trinity’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to Franklin County in the opening round, and had a hat trick in a 6-3 win over Indianapolis Roncalli’s junior varsity in the consolation match.

The match against Roncalli was played with 9 vs. 9, as both teams were short of players.

“At some point over that Scottsburg tournament it was like a switch flipped for him, and he’s checking back to the ball and rather than kind of being a ‘go, go, go play the ball through, let me go run,’” Tabeling said.  “He’s doing a little more checking back, getting the ball, turning and playing a through ball to his teammates, then crashing to the middle and finding the ball right back on his feet.

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“Over the last two weeks he has kind of blown us all away on how much he’s improved. It’s like all of a sudden it’s a new player we’ve got out there doing something that we were lacking in, getting the ball to the middle of the field and turning and getting it out wide.

“He decided to step up and do it himself and has really been helping carry our offensive load. He’s a second-year player for us that hadn’t played much soccer before he started with us.”

The Cougars match against Roncalli was tied at 2-2 at the half.

Shoemaker scored both TL goals in the first half, and one in the second.

Sam Flint and Noah Criswell had goals, and Josiah Foster and Sam Hayes scored penalty kick goals in the second half.

Flint and Criswell had assists.

Trinity’s match against Franklin was tied 1-1 at the half before the Wildcats scored their winning goal with 5:13 remaining.

A.J. Goecker beat the Franklin defense and attempted kick from close range, but his shot was knocked away by the Franklin goalie with 2:26 remaining.

Tabeling said the Cougars also had an excellent chance to score in the first half but were unable to put the ball in the net.

“That’s one of the better teams we’ve played all season as far as controlling the ball,” he said. “They were pretty much doing with it what they wanted. They knocked it a couple times in the middle and got it out wide, spread our defense out and cross it back into the middle.

“We got pretty fortunate a couple times throughout that 80-minute game that either we made a great defensive play or one one of their guys just was a half-second behind and the ball slid all the way through.”

Andrew Emily played goalie against Franklin County and for part of the match against Roncalli, and had 28 saves in the first match and two more in the second match.

“He has had some ankle issues, some foot issues where he’s taped up and wrapped,” Tabeling said. “He knew if he didn’t play we were going to be playing with 11 this entire day so he talked with our trainer and said, “coach, I want to play, but I can’t really run so what do you think about goalie?

“My favorite thing about coaching at this school is we don’t have a huge roster, we don’t have superstar NCAA Division I players. We’ve got 15 kids that are gritty and battle it out and come in 90 degree heat and are going to play two games in a day with one sub in a four hour period.

“I would almost rather have players like that that are gritty and go at it then the guys that are superstars and are kind of lazy and lackadaisical, and don’t really give you 100 percent.”

The Cougars are 5-7-1 and will travel to Lighthouse Christian Academy Thursday.

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.