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Junior sticks with squad to take on North

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Andrew Thomasson was invited to Saturday’s Indy Eleven soccer game to be recognized for making the Olympic Development Program regional pool.

Thomasson won’t be able to make it, however. The Columbus East junior will have another important matter to attend.

Saturday night, Thomasson will help lead the Olympians into a game against arch-rival Columbus North at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex. The teams will play at 8 p.m., following a 6 p.m. match between the East and North girls.

Thomasson is awaiting word on whether he has made the ODP Region II team. He was one of two players from Indiana chosen for the Region II Holdover Camp, where the best 36 players from 13 states in this year’s Region II Tournament in July in Rockford, Illinois, stayed for three days of training and tryouts. The top 18 will make Region II team for birth year 1998.

“It’s a great opportunity to play at that holdover camp,” Thomasson said. “Only a few (from Columbus) have ever made it to the regional team, so it’s a great honor.”

“To make it that far speaks to hard work and dedication off the field,” East coach Brad Barber said. “He’s a very driven individual and wants to compete at the highest level. He’s always looking for ways to improve, and if he makes the regional ODP camp, that will bring a lot of attention his way.”

Barber has Thomasson playing a new position for the Olympians this season. After playing outside back the past two years, Thomasson has moved to a defensive midfielder spot.

“Being an outside back is more of a 180-degree player, and playing the center, you have to be a 360-degree player, checking over your shoulder,” Thomasson said. “There’s always pressure from every angle. It’s a bit more responsibility because it’s up to me to distribute the ball.”

Thomasson figures he adjusted to his new position better than I thought he would through East’s first four games.

“It’s a process, but I’m getting there as time progresses,” Thomasson said. “I’ve always been more of a defensive player, and I think this gives me a little bit of attacking and defensive responsibility.”

The Olympians lost two seniors that played that defensive midfield position last year in Adam Wallace and Alex Staggs, and Barber knew he needed a player of Thomasson’s caliber in that spot.

“The way we play, that position is probably the most important position on the field,” Barber said. “We tried Andrew out, and he brings a tough mindset to the position. He is very physical, he uses his body really well in being able to control the ball and he’s getting much better in his decision making and in his play in the middle of the field.”

Thomasson began working as a defensive midfielder while playing with East this summer.

“We had a chance to play in some very good teams out of Evansville, and we had some good results, and Andrew was a big reason for that,” Barber said. “He shut down some of their better players. His ability to deny them the ball and put them in immediate pressure as soon as they received it took them out of their game plan.”

The Olympians are looking to defend their Hoosier Hills Conference title and unseat North to win their first sectional since 2005.

“We have probably the most complete team this year from all aspects of the game,” Thomasson said. “Depth on the bench is outstanding. We feel like we can put our subs in and even raise the level of competition.”

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