Thor Arne Höfs is not a Marvel hero, but his abilities minding the net for men’s soccer this season have been nothing short of super.
The standout sophomore goalkeeper led GW (5–2–4, 0–0–1 A-10) to its league-leading sixth shutout of the season Saturday afternoon, blanking Fordham in a scoreless draw.
In his first year in the starting role, Höfs has recorded 45 total saves and allowed just six goals during 989 minutes of play this fall.
The Fehmarn, Germany native leads the conference with an impressive 0.55 goals against average and 0.882 save percentage, which is the 7th-best record in the nation.
Höfs is a vocal presence on the pitch but is humble about the accomplishments in his breakout campaign, crediting his success to the help from his teammates.
“I am lucky to have such a great back four in front of me this year, which are able to stand the pressure and still get so many clean sheets,” Höfs said. “The chemistry is great.”
Höfs earned the A-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week award in mid-September for his performance against then-No. 12 Wake Forest, where the Colonials held the Demon Deacons scoreless in a 0–0 tie. He tallied a stellar seven saves, leading GW to its best performance against a top-15 team in 28 years.
Last fall, Höfs played only seven games for the Colonials and saw 630 total minutes of action behind then-senior goalkeeper Jack Lopez. After Lopez graduated in the spring, Höfs said he knew it was his turn to step up and lead the defense.
He worked hard over the summer preparing for the new role, spending every day either on the field or in the gym, he said.
“I knew what college soccer would be like when I got back, and I tried to practice every day back home over the summer,” Höfs said. “There are many little things in almost every aspect which I can still improve in my play, which I try to focus on in every practice or game…That’s what motivates me.”
Höfs has had years to perfect his game, having played the keeper position since he was six years old.
In his two seasons as a Colonial, Höfs has had a lot to learn, including adjusting to a new and “more athletic” style of play, he said.
However, Höfs faced a unique challenge last season, having to overcome a language barrier that made it harder to direct his back line, he said.
“I didn’t have any German friends on campus, but that was good,” Höfs said. “I was forced to speak English all the time, and that helped a lot because we had practice every day.”
Head coach Craig Jones recognizes Höfs’ improvement and hard work and called the second-year goaltender one of the team’s biggest strengths earlier this season.
“When he’s been called upon, he’s made some big plays at some crucial times for us,” Jones said. “He’s had a great season.”
With conference play now underway, Höfs knows he and his team faces strong competition, but he sees a bright future for the soccer program, he said.
“Now is the most important time of the year,” Höfs said. “We want to make it to the [A-10] tournament and we want to win as many games as possible… I think we have a good recruiting class this year. Right now we have a solid base, and we will do well in the next few years.”
As for himself, Höfs’ goals are straightforward.
“I just want to get as many clean sheets as possible and stay away from any injuries,” he said. “I also want to keep playing soccer after my four years here. Playing soccer every day on a high level is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”