VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Bridgewater's Thomas White experienced a breakout season in 2018, earning first-team All-ODAC honors while helping lead the Eagles to the program's first-ever appearance in the ODAC men's soccer tournament championship game.
This summer, White is working on his game as he prepares for his senior season with the Eagles. The Virginia Beach native is playing in USL League Two with the Virginia Beach United.
USL League Two, formerly known as the PDL (Premier Development League), is the leader in pre-professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada. The League provides the elite platform for those pursuing professional careers domestically and internationally. Throughout the United States and Canada, League Two franchises continue to provide the elite amateur player the opportunity to train and compete at the highest level while maintaining collegiate eligibility.
The USL League Two regular season takes place during the summer from early May to mid-July with each team playing a 14-match schedule against their respective divisional opponents.
Virginia Beach United has played five matches, winning two. White has played in all five matches and started in both victories. He scored a goal in the team's 2-1 victory over Lionsbridge FC.
White earned on a spot on the roster during a preseason tryout session. "I was invited to try out for the team and was one of four players selected from the tryouts to make the roster," White said. "I came off the bench in our first two games and played pretty well and then I got my first start in the game against Lionsbridge. I scored a goal in the first six minutes of play to give us the lead."
The Virginia Beach United squad features a roster loaded with Division I and foreign talent.
"The coach here brought in a lot of Division I and Division II players. We have several players from Utah Valley State, a strong Division I program. We have a center back (Matthew Ridley) from Lander and they made it to the Division II quarterfinals," White said.
"League Two is the highest amateur soccer league in the country," White continued. "I'm playing with and against some really great players. I've played against players from Duke, UNC and other quality Division I programs, so yeah, the competition is very good. The intensity level is really high."
White led the Eagles in scoring this past season with 28 points on 11 goals and six assists. He hopes a summer of playing against top level competition will have him ready to go in the fall season.
"Last year was kind of a breakout year for me. I just want to get better and better," White said. "This summer is huge for me to prepare for my senior year. Playing at this level has given me even more confidence. Playing this summer allows me to work on my conditioning and I also can get my touch right heading into the fall."
Bridgewater finished the 2018 campaign with an 11-7-1 overall record. The Eagles posted a pair of victories over a nationally-ranked Lynchburg squad and reached the ODAC title match where the team lost to Washington and Lee.
With a strong nucleus returning, White is looking forward to another successful season.
"We took a step forward with the program by reaching the championship game. Next season is another huge step for our program," White said. "After last season, the bar is going to be set high. Coach (Bennison) has put together a strong non-conference schedule to prepare us for the ODAC season."
Bridgewater will open its 2019 season on Aug. 30 when the Eagles host William Peace University.