By Craig Pearson
TERRE HAUTE — Erin Pugh has a passion and talent for soccer.
Those traits are exactly what St. Mary-of-the-Woods coach Mike Aycock is in need of to build his soccer program.
Pugh will be a key component for the Pomeroys soccer team next fall. Aycock was unable to field a team in 2006 due to injuries and transfers.
“I’m really excited [to play at The Woods]. I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old. I just wanted to continue playing.”
Pugh, who held a 4.0 grade-point average at North, was the Patriots’ leading goal scorer all four years. Pugh put the ball in the back of the net 15 times her senior season, earning her third honors to the all-Vigo County team.
Aycock will be getting a leader on the field as well as a skilled player.
“Erin’s friendly, outgoing personality and charm make her a team favorite,” said North coach Emily Knight.
Pugh is the 12th commitment Aycock has for newcomers to his team, which should give him a total of 19 for the program, which he began in 2000.
Pugh played midfield for North, but Aycock sees her as a key offensive player. She’s played a lot of forward on the Terre Haute Flyers travel teams.
“She’s most explosive when she plays up front,” Aycock said. “She can make the difference in a match from the front as long as you have a system that can create opportunities. She’s a very good target player, a very good scorer, she’s going to help us a lot. She’s very quick.”
Aycock has a player that can make things happen in traffic.
“She’s very comfortable under pressure. When she gets the ball under her feet under pester, she can turn on people and make things happen,” Aycock said.
Pugh joins two Sullivan players, Paige Gill and Briauna Davis, as Wabash Valley players at The Woods. Gill was the Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship winner, and Davis was the Top Ten on 10 Scholarship recipient, sponsored by WTHI-TV and St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
“We’re talking about three very good students here that we’re lucky to have,” Aycock said.
Aycock is hoping to build his program into a successful one, using the success the Woods’ softball program has had in capturing national championships in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
“This coming year will be a nice step for us,” he said. “We’d really like to have a good competitive experience, where we can play very good Division III and NAIA schools, tune our schedule.”
Aycock’s best team was in 2003 when the Pomeroys won seven games. At the end of the 2005 season — in which the program was host for the USCAA national championships — Aycock’s squad was close to bettering that 2003 team’s mark.
With a large class coming in next season, Aycock said he hopes his recruiting can be more focused in the next couple years to add to a strong base that Pugh, Gill and Davis should help build.
• More college choices — Turkey Run softball pitcher Chelsea Hanner will play softball at Hanover. It had already been reported, but Terre Haute North standout basketball player Molly Martin will play at Hanover. Martin signed last week.
Turkey Run first baseman Lacie Deplanty will play softball for Franklin College, and Terre Haute South’s Brett Arnold will play baseball for the Grizzlies.
Sports reporter Craig Pearson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4357. Read his blog at blogs.tribstar.com/craigpearson.