FAIRBORN — Erin Thomas had a rather matter of fact answer for why she moved from defensive midfield to striker this season.
“I guess coach decided that that was a good position for me to play,” the Fairborn High School junior said.
More like ideal. Or perfect.
Despite limited minutes at the position last year — and spending almost every year she’s played the game at defensive mid — Thomas has made Coach Keith Rentz look like a genius.
After scoring three goals in a 9-0 win last night against Stebbins, Thomas has 22 goals this season — 11 more than she scored the previous two seasons combined — and is currently first among Miami Valley League goal scorers.
Not bad for someone who has played a defense-first position since she was 8-years-old.
“I never really played full-time striker before, so it was different, I guess, getting used to it,” Thomas said.
Call her a quick study.
After the Skyhawks were shutout by Sidney in the season opener, Thomas scored five times in a 7-0 win over Greenville, and she has notched five hat tricks and either a goal or assist in each win for the 8-4-2 Skyhawks.
“I guess I was just playing,” Thomas said. “My teammates definitely helped me a lot and put me in positions to where I do get those opportunities to score a lot of goals.”
Rentz said the position change was more of a necessity than a luxury.
”We definitely had the need for a center forward up top,” he said. “The last couple years our defense has gotten stronger and stronger, but our offense has had some ups and downs trying to put the ball in the back of the net. She’s got the skill set that’s necessary. She’s tenacious. She’s strong on the ball. She’s good with both feet. Knows the game well.”
That’s the same description one could use on another Thomas who played at Fairborn, Erin’s older sister, Lauren, who was also a prolific scorer. And that’s made Erin strive to be the best she can be.
“She’s definitely someone I look up to and she’s very obviously a great player,” she said of Lauren. “She just has a lot of determination and drive. That’s why I think I look up to her so much and it really motivates me.”
But that motivation isn’t so she can live up to her older sister’s legacy.
“I like playing offense because I like helping the team win,” Erin said. “(But) I think everyone has a part in what happens in the game. It’s not just one person. It’s definitely distributed throughout the entire team. Everyone plays their position well. I get a lot of help from my team. I do have great support from my coaches and teammates. It just makes everything work.”
Much like the position change.
“She’s transitioned well,” Rentz said. “Having that dynamic player up top .. you know she can do something with it, the question is, will this be the moment.”
Those are the moments Thomas lives for.
“Scoring the goals and helping our team win,” she said.
Winning is something Fairborn has done a lot of lately. The Skyhawks have won five of their last seven matches with one loss and one tie. Thomas is hoping that the team keeps rolling as they take on Tippecanoe and Butler next week to end the regular season and begin tournament play.
“We’re just hoping to continue to play as well as we have been,” she said.
That would put Fairborn in a great position. Much like Thomas.