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COMMON GOALIES: Brother, sister are Blue Raider soccer players at same position

By David Barr

davidbarr@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 10/11/17

Much like a soccer ball is stitched together, siblings Thomas and Amanda Lee are stitched together by their love of soccer.

Thomas, a senior at Middletown and Amanda, a freshman at Middletown, are …

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COMMON GOALIES: Brother, sister are Blue Raider soccer players at same position

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Much like a soccer ball is stitched together, siblings Thomas and Amanda Lee are stitched together by their love of soccer.

Thomas, a senior at Middletown and Amanda, a freshman at Middletown, are the starting goalies for the boys and girls varsity soccer teams, respectively.

The siblings have a different playing style. According to their father, Drew, Amanda plays with a take-no-prisoners, fearless mind-set and an attitude that no one’s going to score on her.

Thomas, on the other hand, is more of a finesse player, watching the play set up, anticipating where the shot is coming from, and being in the right place at the right time to stop the attack.

There are similarities. Both are aggressive off the line and both communicate well to their defensive teammates about where to position themselves to re-establish possession for their team.

“It’s definitely fun to watch them,” said Drew, who played the left wing position in high school and played intramurally in college. Thomas credits their father for installing a love of soccer in both him and Amanda.

Despite his love of soccer, Drew said he never pushed Amanda and Thomas towards playing only soccer. Instead, they were encouraged to try other sports and activities, but they both preferred soccer over everything else.

“I’m glad they chose to play seriously,” Drew said. 

When asked who’s the better player, Amanda emphatically raises her hand and surprisingly, Thomas concedes without much of an argument.

“If she keeps it up, she will be far better than me as a senior,” Thomas said.

Being a former player from a different position on the field, Drew has been able to offer some advice such as tactics other players will use and how to see the field from an offensive standpoint rather than just a keeper or defensive perspective to both Thomas and Amanda. Also, Drew will break down the game with Thomas and Amanda afterwards, going over key points and getting them thinking about what they could have done differently. 

Now that they are both in the high school, it has been a challenge for the siblings to see each other play as there are very few times when there isn’t a game scheduled for both teams on the same night.

Thomas’s story

This is Thomas’ first year of starting at goalie for Middletown.

He said he likes “being the guy that stops everybody,” he said.

After making the varsity team as a sophomore in 2015, he began last season as the backup goalie for the first few games until the starter, Avery Williams, was lost for the season with an injury.

In February, Brian Keyser was selected as the new head coach, and as Thomas described it, there was a “clean slate with Keyser coming in,” meaning no one was going to be handed anything based on past years’ accomplishments. 

That resulted in a competition in the spring and summer for the starting goalie position between Thomas and Avery, one that wasn’t decided until the day before the first game of the season. Keyser considers both Thomas and Williams as the starting goalies for Middletown. Currently, Thomas starts and plays goalie for the first half and Williams starts and plays in the second half.

Competing against Williams isn’t new for Thomas, as he and Williams have been playing soccer since they were kids and have faced off numerous times. Thomas says they pushed each other for the role and yet it hasn’t had a negative impact on their friendship.

According to Keyser, the biggest difference in last year and this year is Thomas’ confidence in goal. Last year, Thomas would second-guess himself and get down on himself after making mistakes, whereas this year, the team has seen none of that so far and they have complete confidence in him.

“His understanding of the position and the hard work he’s done in the offseason have given him the opportunity that he has earned to be one of our starting keepers,” Keyser said.

With Thomas three years older, he had a head start on Amanda, playing soccer when he was 5 or 6. He started out playing all over the field, then moved to goalie at about age 9 and liked it.

“I’ve basically played it every year since 11 on,” Thomas said.

Amanda’s story

While impressive to be named a starter at the varsity level, Thomas says that as a senior, he’s expected to be there, leading younger players and setting an example. With Amanda earning the role as a freshman, “it’s more of a compliment to Amanda” because “she has to work harder,” he said.

Amanda jokes that Thomas takes credit for her playing goalie, but she says her coaches put her in the goalie position and she split time between goalie and the field, but other teams kept scoring when she wasn’t in net, so she kept playing goalie from then on.

Playing the same position in the same sport, Thomas was and is able to give Amanda advice on the position as she started playing on more-experienced levels and saw her natural ability on the field.

“I think I expected Amanda to get it because I’ve watched her play for years. Her natural abilities, it stands out,” Thomas said.

“He does try to help. It’s more him giving me tips because he’s older,” Amanda said.

Amanda also started playing soccer around 5 or 6. 

“I started because Tommy was playing and I just wanted to try it,” Amanda said.

Amanda says she was always playing with Thomas and his friends and by age 8 started to play goalie, spending the majority of her time in net by fifth grade.

According to Amanda’s coach, Timothy Neff, Amanda was selected due to a combination of factors, including her ability to communicate and help direct the defense; the knowledge of correct positioning and knowing where to be and when to react; and her competitiveness and desire to win.

“When you combined them all, we felt she was the top choice. I think it’s pretty cool having two siblings not just playing the same sport at the same time, but both starting in the same position also,” Neff said in an email.

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