|Wed, Aug 20, 2014 02:49 AM
February 12, 2014 | 10:29 AM
Back-heels, flicks, volleys and plenty of goals came from the feet and head of Corydon Central's Cory Thomas.
The trickery that mystified many opponents on the high school pitch along with never-ending speed made his pledge to Indiana University official last week.
Corydon Central senior Cory Thomas signed his National Letter of Intent Thursday to play collegiate soccer for Indiana University. Joining Cory were, from left, Corydon Central assistant soccer coach Greg Robinson, Corydon Central soccer coach Jeff Salomon, mother Tina Thomas and father Jim Thomas. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)
With friends, family and coaches driving through ice, they gathered at Corydon Central High School on Thursday to see Thomas sign his National Letter of Intent to play for the NCAA Division I Hoosiers.
"I've been working a long time to get to this day, so to finally commit and further my career is pretty important personally," Thomas said.
On the field, Thomas played a midfield role that often saw him attacking the net. His speed and endurance left many opponents in the dust, helping lead the Panthers to three consecutive Mid-Southern Conference titles.
"All the friends I've made on the team here, especially showing up when we are out of school for the signing, they woke up early for this, which means a lot for me," Thomas said. "As a team, we've done well and had good moments on the field."
Many of the records at Corydon Central begin with the name Cory Thomas at the top. Among the all-time records held by Thomas are goals (60) and points (148). He finished second all-time in assists with 28, behind brothers Brent (35 assists) and Chad Salomon (29).
As far as single-season records, Thomas holds the main three categories: goals (26 in 2012), assists (13 in 2013) and points (62 in 2012). The single-season assists and goals record is shared with Brent Salomon.
Single-game records also belong to Thomas, including his six-goal performance versus Scottsburg last season. He also had a game-best five assists against Austin in 2012.
Last year, Thomas tallied 22 goals and 13 assists for 57 points. The lofty numbers helped the Panthers finish with an 11-5-2 record.
"I committed before my junior year, but it's not quite like signing," Thomas said. "Signing, you are there and committed. I'm there."
Outside of playing for the Panthers, Thomas put in work and goals for his club team, River City Rovers, which is based in Louisville.
"I went to camps and tournaments where coaches came and watched me play," he said. "It's all about how you perform. Coaches from IU came at the right time in games I played well. They liked what they saw, so it worked out for me."
Thomas said the Hoosiers lost several players to graduation. There are many roles on the field Thomas hopes to vie for once he arrives on the Bloomington campus.
"I'm going to try to fit in and make an impact early," Thomas said.
Asked about the skills he can bring the Hoosiers, Thomas said, "I'm very athletic and, off the dribble, I'm confident with my creation in the attacking third. I'm probably not the best defender, but, when it's necessary, I can do it."
The Hoosiers carry plenty of tradition when it comes to men's soccer. The program is second all-time in total NCAA Division I titles with eight. St. Louis has 10. Most appearances in the College Cup (final four), however, belong to the Hoosiers with 18.
Indiana's latest NCAA title came in 2012 under current head coach Todd Yeagley. That year, the Hoosiers became the first 16-seed to hoist the hardware. Yeagley has experience as a player for the Hoosiers, along with spending time in Major League Soccer with the Columbus Crew.
"The coaches are driven to win," Thomas said. "They push their players into fierce competition to compete for those starting positions. That is going to make me a lot better and the reason I like the team so much. Everybody wants to win."
The Hoosiers, winners of 12 Big 10 titles in men's soccer, is a team Thomas has followed for a long time.
"It's pretty cool because I always looked up to their players when I was younger," he said. "Now, to actually go there, and see how big the program is, is special."
Thomas, the son of Jim and Tina Thomas, plans on majoring in sports management.