The St. Thomas Eagles were a breath away from a TAPPS state title two years ago and lost in the state semifinals last season.
However, the close calls haven’t seemed to linger on the minds of the Eagles and head coach Kenny Martin as they’ve run through much of the competition so far this season in efforts to climb the mountain once again.
“You don’t forget the taste in your mouth when you fail and when you lose a chance at a championship,” Martin said in a news release from the school. “And I think there’s a little bit of that that definitely acts as a motivation for this group. We’ll always play to win and to never have that feeling again.”
It certainly appears as though the Eagles are living that mantra. St. Thomas ran its record to 18-2-1 on the season following a 4-2 victory over rival St. Pius X on Jan. 17. It was the third consecutive win for the Eagles, who sat at 4-1 and in second place in TAPPS District 4 heading into a Tuesday match against Katy St. John XXIII.
The Eagles have been strong on both ends of the pitch this season as they outscored opponents by a margin of 74-12 through their first 21 games.
Leading the charge offensively has been senior striker Allesandro Rivero, who has followed up a 38-goal campaign last season with 21 tallies so far this season.
However, it’s been a balanced offensive attack for the Eagles. They have three other players – Nico Prioli, David Steffes and Pablo Tager – who have reached the back of the net at least 10 times apiece.
The Eagles have not been a one-dimensional team, either. Defensively, they have pitched 14 shutouts while not allowing more than two goals in a match all season. Senior goalkeeper Robert Vara has been a brick wall in the net, allowing just 10 goals in 16 starts and notching nine shutouts.