For the second time in three matches, the Mt. Vernon boys soccer team put up eight goals. Tuesday was the second straight hat trick for senior forward Jarret Whitehouse and the third consecutive win for the red-hot Marauders.
The team’s season record jumped to 3-0 with the Marauders now standing 2-0 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference after defeating Delta 8-1 in their home opener with five different players recording at least one goal.
However, the most celebrated point scored came in the match’s final two minutes as Mt. Vernon sophomore Matt Thompson collected a deflected save off Delta goalkeeper Zion Osner’s hands.
Charging the net, Thompson fired home the goal. The crowd erupted in applause as his older brother, Ben, watched from the stands, proud and overwhelmed by the love showered upon him and his family.
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Diagnosed with Stage I Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma this past summer, there are more days of struggle than there are moments of elation for Ben Thompson, a Mt. Vernon senior.
A thrower for the Marauders track and field team, Ben began experiencing pain in his shoulder, which initially was thought to be from overuse or a muscle strain. In July, his parents, Lori and Kenny, were informed it was cancer.
Ben, 18, has been undergoing treatment and is on his second round of chemotherapy, which has sapped his energy and made the simplest tasks difficult.
While not on the soccer team, the Marauders have made it a mission to support Ben, Matt and the family this season, which resulted in Tuesday night’s Kick For A Cure event.
“That’s the family atmosphere we have here. We pray together and support each other. We wanted the win, but it was more important to come together for the cause tonight,” Mt. Vernon head coach Matt Mayhew said. “I’m proud of them.”
Impacted by cancer as well, Mayhew’s mother, Deb, has battled the disease three times and is a survivor today. The coach hopes the money raised from the inaugural event will help others.
For Matt Thompson, the game was therapeutic. His release from “everything,” Matt was promoted to the varsity lineup from the junior varsity team by the request of the Marauders captains, who acknowledged the importance of the night.
“We’ve all gone to school with Ben for a long time, since he’s in the same grade with a lot of us. We wanted to do something for him. This is a terrible thing to happen to a teenager or anyone for that matter,” said Whitehouse, who ramped up his season goal total to eight and five assists. “What better time to help Ben and raise money for a national cancer foundation than tonight?”
The Marauders partnered with Delta, and head coach Kurt Griffis to put together the fundraiser, which the programs plan to continue every year. Delta players and coaches wore pink shirts while the Marauders sported purple tops for the occasion.
“It meant a lot to me. I never knew so many people cared about me in this way. I’m trying to find the words,” Ben Thompson said. “It makes me feel better because during cancer treatment it really wears on you more emotionally than physically. People’s support makes the entire process easier for me. I’m truly thankful.”
Overcome with emotion, Lori Thompson shared a hug with Mayhew after the match as she told her son Matt how proud she was of him.
So was Ben, who refuses to give up his fight. After high school, he wants to resume his track career, eyeing Anderson University as a possibility. And he wants to see his brother work his way up the ranks on the soccer field.
“That goal was awesome. It made this day better for me. I’m really happy he did that,” Ben said. “I’m lucky to have him as a brother.”
“Tonight was really amazing,” Matt added. “I hope it was more amazing for my brother. It’s been rough. Ben’s getting better. It’s a great soccer family. We’re lucky to have them.”
Mt. Vernon 8, Delta 1
Delta (0-2-1, 0-0 HHC);1;0;—;1
Mt. Vernon (3-0; 2-0 HHC);3;5;—;8
Notables: (MV) Goals: Jarret Whitehouse 3, Carson Jones 1, Matt Schafer 2, Timmy Clone 1, Matt Thompson 1. Assists: Whitehouse 2, Drew Heitman 1.