Scott Hammond has some lofty goals for this soccer season.

An honorable mention All-State selection last season, the Columbus East senior wants to make the first team this year. But more importantly, he wants to help lead the Olympians to Hoosier Hills Conference and sectional titles and make a deep tournament run.

A win against Columbus North in Saturday night’s home opener wouldn’t hurt Hammond’s or his teammates’ feelings either. But East has games Tuesday at Seymour and Thursday at Bloomington North before it can focus squarely on the Bull Dogs.

The Olympians are coming off a championship in Center Grove’s Trojan Classic. East beat Brownsburg 3-0 and Class 3A No. 12 Center Grove 3-2 to win the classic for the first time in Brad Barber’s nine years as coach.

The title was big for the Olympians, who had dropped a 1-0 Hoosier Hills Conference decision at Floyd Central in last week’s season opener.

“We got off to a slow start, but I thought in the second half, we did a lot better,” Hammond said. “We moved the ball really well.”

Saturday’s victories were aided by the East defense, led by Hammond at center back. He recognizes his strengths in 1v1 defending and organizing the Olympians’ back line.

Barber also sees those strengths in Hammond’s game, along with his ability to put himself in the right position to prevent scoring opportunities and help jump start the offensive attack.

“He reads the game tremendously well,” Barber said. “His ability to play a ball over distance into our forwards’ feet cuts a lot of defenders out of the play. That ability allows us to play quick for our counter-attacks, but also 1v1 defending. He’s tremendous in snuffing out the ball and winning it back for us.”

Hammond is in his third year as a starting center back and his second year as a captain. Barber said Hammond has been a leader because of his role as a center back, but also has stepped forward and nurtured and helped a lot of the younger players coming through the program.

Although he has talked with coaches at Appalachian State, Hammond is leaning toward not playing soccer in college. He is considering enlisting in the Marines, or may go to Indiana University and try to walk on or play intramurals.

Hammond’s older brother Alex plays intramurals at IUPUI. The Hammonds, along with four other sets of brothers, played on the East team that won HHC and sectional titles in 2015.

“I thought it was really cool playing with my brother,” Scott Hammond said. “There was really good chemistry between us. We had a lot of brothers on the team that year, so we had really good chemistry among the whole team.”

If you go

Columbus East vs. Columbus North soccer

Saturday at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex

2 p.m.: JV boys

4 p.m.: JV girls

6 p.m.: Varsity boys

8 p.m.: Varsity girls

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.