When Sumner senior defender Jordan Thompson was first invited to play club soccer, it wasn’t her soccer skills that drew the coach’s attention.
Thompson recalled what the coach said to her mother over the phone, ‘She’s not really good at soccer, but she’s really fast, so we can work with her soccer ability.”
“It’s an ongoing joke in my family,” Thompson said. “‘Oh, you made the team because you were fast, but you weren’t very good at soccer at all.’”
If she wasn’t good then, she is now.
Thompson has been named a first-team all-league player in each of her four high school seasons and helped her team to four state tournament appearances, including winning the 2A state title at the end of her freshman season.
She played forward that year, but moved to defender as a sophomore when the Spartans moved up to 3A. This season, the Spartans moved up to 4A and, as a senior, Thompson led them to the state quarterfinals where their season ended with a 2-1 loss to Yakima’s West Valley on Saturday.
She is undoubtedly the most impactful player that Sumner soccer has ever had, at least in my tenure in the last 14 years. … She literally has the ability to single-handily change games, change attitudes and change the intensity and the passion of her teammates.
Sumner girls soccer coach Robi Turley
She may not score many goals, but her impact is unquestioned and she has earned The News Tribune’s 2016 All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“She is undoubtedly the most impactful player that Sumner soccer has ever had, at least in my tenure in the last 14 years,” Sumner coach Robi Turley said. “We’ve had a lot of good players, a lot of Division I, II and III players, so it’s not just her ability on the field, but it’s everything else. She literally has the ability to single-handedly change games, change attitudes and change the intensity and the passion of her teammates.
“She literally is that impactful all over the place, and I think that is what makes her so special.”
That impact was felt in the Spartans’ victory over Chiawana in the opening round of the state playoffs last Tuesday at Chiawana High School in Pasco. Sumner fell behind 1-0 with 15 minutes to play in the game, but Thompson addressed her team and the Spartans’ fortune turned.
“She doesn’t ever want it to end,” Turley said. “She’s that type of player. She literally, with 15 minutes left in the game, looked at her teammates and said, ‘Let’s go! I’m not ending out here in Pasco, away (from home).’ She can do that.”
Sumner tied the game with eight minutes left in the game and took their first lead of the game with three minutes to play. Needing only to stop Chiawana from scoring to hang on for the win, Thompson helped take care of the rest.
“Jordan stepped up big time when we had to defend,” Turley said.
Thompson started in club soccer as a forward, but broke her foot three times in her first season. When she returned, she moved to defender. The transition was difficult at first, but she quickly learned to make the most of her new position.
“I think at first I was very wrapped up in, ‘Oh, I’m not scoring goals anymore. No one is proud of me for putting the ball in the back of the net,’ ” she said. “As I got older and matured, I realized that defender is one of the most important positions on the field. If you don’t have a defender stopping the goal scorer, you’re going to lose every game.
“Eventually I was OK with not getting as much credit and not getting as much glory. I think it’s definitely the dirty work part of the game that a lot of people don’t realize how important of a role it is.”
Thompson briefly returned to her roots as a freshman, playing forward and helping the Spartans win the state championship — even scoring a goal in the title game.
I think at first I was very wrapped up in, ‘Oh, I’m not scoring goals anymore. No one is proud of me for putting the ball in the back of the net,’ As I got older and matured, I realized that defender is one of the most important positions on the field. If you don’t have a defender stopping the goal scorer, you’re going to lose every game.
Sumner defender Jordan Thompson
Turley moved Thompson back to defender for her sophomore season, but she continued to have a positive impact on games.
“She plays a huge role, and we put a ton of pressure on her,” Turley said. “Most teams put four in the back or a flat four. We play three in the back. It’s totally because she’s so dominant. She’s a huge reason for our success.”
Her leadership has not been lost on her teammates.
“Playing with her for the last three years has just been a blessing,” junior forward Sam Larberg said. “She makes everyone around her better by just working her hardest in practice and in games. I always look to her to bring me up when I’m down, and she really pushes me to be a better player. I think what makes her special is just her character. She’s one of the kindest people who is just looking out for everyone and is very selfless. She’s an awesome leader on the team.”
Thompson’s stellar high school career is over, but she is graduating early and will continue her soccer career next year at Gonzaga University.
“I’m really excited,” Thompson said. “I think it’s going to be really great to play college soccer. I’ve been wanting to play college soccer since the minute I stepped on a field when I was 4, so I’m super excited to do that.
“My expectations for myself are just to keep getting better. I want to play as a freshman, I don’t know if that will happen, so that’s kind of my goal coming in my freshman year, is to work as hard as I can to get to that point.”