Early season frustration turned to late season jubilation for Piedmont senior soccer player Thomas Spencer last week.
After spending much of the season in a goal-scoring slump, Spencer erupted for five goals in the Wildcats’ 7-4 win at Lawton Eisenhower April 20.
Spencer, Piedmont’s all-time leading goal scorer in program history with 25, had two goals in the first minute of the game and a hat trick by the sixth minute.
“When the third one when went in, I knew it was going to be a good night,” Spencer said of the early hat trick, which matched his previous goal total on the season. “Dax Hampton just kept giving me good balls and one thing led to another. I’d look up, see the keeper off line and put it in back post.”
It only seemed natural for the most prolific goal scorer in Piedmont soccer history to put home a program-best five goals in one game, but until the Ike game, Spencer had never recorded a hat trick.
“We’ve had a hat trick in our program before, but not my Thomas. Everyone kind of gave him a hard time about that,” Piedmont head coach Zac Selph said. “He should’ve had more than five goals last night, but the keeper made a couple of good saves. We’ll settle for five, though. That’s pretty good regardless of who you’re playing.”
The avalanche of goals was a timely remedy for Spencer, who, for much of the season drew extra attention from opposing defenses, making scoring chances difficult to find.
“It’s something we’d talked about,” Selph said. “If he just kept playing and setting other guys up, eventually it’s going to happen up for you, and it did.”
Not a moment too soon for Spencer.
“It was a huge relief,” he said. “Going from everyone giving you a hard time to doing that, it was nice.”
Spencer had a chance to collect a rare double hat trick late in the game, but narrowly missed on his opportunity.
“I just didn’t kick it hard enough and the keeper stopped it,” he said. “Little disappointing, but five goals in a game – you can’t get better than that.”
The big game helped soften the blow of narrowly missing out on the postseason for Spencer. Playing without the burden of a must-win game Piedmont faced in each of its previous three, Spencer said the team relaxed.
“That was probably a big thing playing Ike,” he said. “Just knowing that there wasn’t any pressure about making the postseason, we just went out there and had fun. I think that’s why we played so well.”
It was a fitting almost-end to a spectacular career for Spencer, who’s been a foundational piece in taking Piedmont from a one-win team prior to his arrival four years ago, to an annual playoff contender since.
“He’s always been there for us offensively,” Selph said of Spencer, who has either tied or led Piedmont in goals scored in each of his previous three seasons. “If it weren’t for some of his goals and offensive efforts, we wouldn’t be looking at the record we’ve had in the first four years here.”
Spencer, who wasn’t sure Piedmont was the place for him four years ago, takes pride in the program he’s helped build one goal at a time.
“Coming here before my freshman year I was a little disappointed I came to Piedmont just because they weren’t very good the year before,” he said. “But I started looking at the team and coaching staff, and they’ve built the greatest program I could ever play for. I wouldn’t want to play for any other team. I love it here.”