Eastern High School’s Lance VanMatre has been dedicated to soccer ever since his older brothers introduced the sport to him around the age of 4 or 5.
While his brothers played in a recreational soccer league in Greentown, VanMatre always would play with them at their home in the backyard before he was old enough to join a league himself. After joining at the age of 6, he was already better than a lot of the other kids his age due to his early experiences in the sport. He played on the Kokomo Soccer Club travel team before joining a league in Indianapolis where he’s been playing since.
“I’d say when I was like 8 or 9, I started getting a lot of touches on the soccer ball because I realized I was better than some of the other kids in rec league and travel,” VanMatre said. “I wanted to be really good, so I would just go out in my driveway and just juggle and get a bunch of touches on the ball. It just sent me ahead of everyone, all the other kids, because none of them would do any of that or didn’t really have very good touch on the ball. I was just more superior than them, and it’s really stuck with me ever since. I’ve just had a slight advantage on other kids with my touch on the ball.”
VanMatre gave a lot of credit for his success to his travel soccer league. He and his teammates participate in several major tournaments in America and bring home numerous wins. According to VanMatre, this gave him a lot of pride and joy, and it motivated him to keep playing and getting better. Just like in his high school career, winning sectionals last season prompted him to want to put in the extra effort and keep working hard to come back the next year.
According to VanMatre, his biggest role model was his oldest brother, former soccer star Jordan VanMatre, due to their physical similarities and both playing the defensive midfielder position. Lance reflected on memories of attending his brother’s high school soccer games when he was younger, striving to one day be a standout player and lead scorer.
Additionally, Lance was fortunate to play varsity his freshman year with his brother Lucas VanMatre as a senior. One of Lance’s favorite memories was the first game of the 2016 season against Kokomo High School.
“I played forward, and he (Lucas) was midfielder,” Lance said. “I had a hat trick. I had three goals that game, and he had all three assists for the goals. So, first varsity game ever against Kokomo, one of our big school rivals, we beat them, and I scored three goals. And my brother had all three assists. So, that’s definitely one of my favorite memories for sure.”
The Comets finished the 2018 season at 17-4, winning the conference with a 5-0 record. In that time, VanMatre broke the school record for career goals and goals scored in a season. This season, his goal is to break the state record for goals scored in a season (54) after ending the season last year with 52. However, VanMatre is about five weeks into a torn hamstring injury and has not seen the game field yet this season. With regular physical therapy appointments, he is optimistic he’ll be back soon and ready to go.
In addition to playing soccer, VanMatre is also a part of the Comets’ football team as the kicker and punter.
VanMatre plans to attend college next fall to study cybersecurity, but he is unsure of where or if he will continue his soccer career.
The Comets will compete at the Northwestern Invitational beginning at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Aug. 24.