Kapaun Mount Carmel graduate Thomas Wells is already making an impact in his first season with FC Wichita, as the team is off to an undefeated start and he has four goals in six conference games.
Wells has joined the amateur team after completing his freshman season at Tulsa University, where he started three games and produced three goals and two assists.
As FC Wichita (6-0-0) heads to Springfield, Mo., to face Demize (2-3-0) for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday match, Wells, a 20-year-old Wichita native, has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise this summer for FC Wichita manager Blake Shumaker.
"He's absolutely a professional player if he wants to be, there's no doubt about it," Shumaker said. "Thomas is already doing things at a young age that usually takes players until their mid-20s to read and understand."
Wells is most well-known for scoring 50 goals, a Kansas high school record, with nine assists during his senior year at Kapaun. He has a burgeoning career at Tulsa, which plans on using him as a central attacking midfielder in the coming years.
But for this summer, Wells is enjoying returning to his goal-scoring ways.
"It's a huge confidence-booster because it tells me that I can play with this competition," Wells said. "It's always good to see the ball in the back of the net. Sometimes when you don't see it go in for awhile you start to wonder if it can. But it's been going in for me, and it's a good confidence-booster for me."
What is impressing Shumaker is the degree of difficulty of some of Wells' goals.
Last week in a 5-3 win over Tulsa Athletic, Wells touched a through ball around the charging keeper then somehow finished parallel to the goal line. In the first game against Tulsa Athletic, on May 26, Wells scored on a jaw-dropping bicycle kick inside the box to top off a 3-1 victory.
"You get something special every game from this kid," Shumaker said. "He just believes he's going to impact the game. The moment is never too big for him. It could be the U.S. Open Cup or a big conference match, Thomas always believes he's going to be the one that's going to change the game."
Wells appreciates the nod of confidence FC Wichita has given him with regular starts. He said he has benefited from playing with older players, learning from them away from the field, and has improved his skill level by training every day with such a talented team.
It's also been a joy for him to play for his hometown team in front of family and friends.
"Now they don't have to make a two-hour drive," Wells said. "They can leave five minutes before the game and come see me play. It's really cool to represent this city and play for this club. It's been a blessing."
Even though FC Wichita could clinch its third Heartland Conference championship with a win Saturday, there's still plenty of motivation left for FC Wichita to keep winning in the three matches after.
While FC Wichita will wrap up homefield advantage through the conference playoffs, more wins could clinch homefield advantage through the regional final. FC Wichita is one of four unbeaten teams left in the 98-team National Premier Soccer League.
If the wins are still to come, then Wells will likely play a crucial role in them from his position on the right wing.
"There's still a whole lot to play for," Shumaker said. "Thomas has been a big part of that. He just seems to make goals out of nothing. He believes in his runs and he has the ability. We're lucky to have him on our side."