CRESTVIEW HILLS, Kentucky – Thomas More College's Ethan Smith opened the 2018 season with a hat trick to give the Saints a 3-1 victory over the Wilmington College men's soccer team on Friday afternoon.
Before Smith could get on the board, however, Nicklas Martensson nearly gave the Fightin' Quakers the lead in the 30th minute, but his shot caromed of the crossbar. Just over four minutes later, Smith scored the first goal of the game.
Bruce Anthony fired a header that finished high of the target in the 41sts minute, but the visitors kept up the pressure by earning a corner kick less than a minute later. Though the Quakers did not score on the corner kick itself, Adriel Ortiz found some room in the Saints' defense at the 42:30 mark and beat Thomas More goalkeeper Jeff Paulin for his first career goal.
Both teams would get off one more shot in the first half, but Wilmington netminder Felix Maurer kept the game tied going into halftime.
Shots were nearly even in the first half with the hosts holding a 7-6 lead. Wilmington did earn four corner kicks to Thomas More's two.
The Saints showed why they made the NCAA Division III Tournament a season ago in the second half, outshooting the Quakers 16-2 in the final 45 minutes. Smith scored second-half goals including a 40-yard shot in the 71st minute and a goal in the 86th minute as Wilmington was pushing numbers forward in an attempt to tie the game.
Maurer took the loss allowing three goals on 11 shots with eight saves. Paulin earned the victory making two saves on three shots.
"We started to fatigue late in the game and began making too many errors," first-year Head Coach Alex Van der Sluijs said. "Overall, I like what we learned about ourselves tonight. The result isn't want we wanted, but the season is a marathon and not a sprint."
Wilmington (0-1) hosts the University of Cincinnati Clermont on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Kickoff from Williams Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.