College notebook: Eastern’s Black battling back from ankle injury

Forward from BGHS among Big Sky leaders

By Kurt Zimmer, Columbian Sports Reporter

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The Big Sky Conference website recently posted an interview with Eastern Washington women’s soccer freshman forward Cassie Black, a graduate of Battle Ground High School.

Black is tied for fifth in the conference with five goals in her first collegiate season, and fourth in goals per game at 0.45. She is one of 10 freshmen on the roster for the Eagles (1-10, 0-3 Big Sky) working to turn around the program.

However, she has not found the back of the net since scoring twice in a 4-0 home win Sept. 16 over The Evergreen State College, giving her five goals in her first seven games at EWU. Her injury happened in the Eagles’ next game.

Black has been entering the Eagles’ last three games — all Big Sky contests — as a substitute after suffering an ankle injury early in a 1-0 loss Sept. 25 at Idaho, playing an increasing number of minutes in each game since.

Excerpts from Black’s Q&A session with bigskyconf.com:

Q: What is the biggest difference you notice from high school soccer and college soccer?

A: The biggest difference I notice between high school soccer and college soccer is that college soccer is more intense. The pace of the game is much faster, it’s more physical and practices are more serious and competitive.

Q: As a freshman, how does (being among the conference leaders in scoring) help you and your team coming into the conference season?

A: This helps me because I am more confident stepping onto the field and more comfortable with taking shots. This helps my team because scoring goals is a team effort and as when anyone scores, it’s a celebration for the entire team. I couldn’t do it without them.

Q: Has your first year been what you expected? Why or why not?

A: My first year has been better than what I expected because all the people have been extra friendly and soccer gets better each game.

Q: If you could give some advice to the freshmen on next year’s team, what would it be?

A: I would tell the freshmen to next year’s team to come in shape and ready to play! Also, I would tell them to be confident in their abilities and that they are here for a reason.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in the 2011 conference season?

A: The thing I am looking forward to most is turning around the EWU soccer mentality and showing the rest of the Big Sky Conference that this is a new year and we’re ready to play. I also can’t wait to see all our hard work pay off.

Palodichuk having impact for Duke

Duke University freshman Nick Palodichuk was named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Men’ s College Soccer Team of the Week for Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 after scoring three goals in two games as the Blue Devils went 1-0-1. The weekly honor is the first for Palodichuk, a Camas High graduate.

His two goals in a 4-1 win over Presbyterian marked a a season high for Palodichuk. In the next game, the freshman snapped North Carolina’s shutout streak which had spanned 436 minutes, 24 seconds. The Tobacco Road rivals tied at 2-2.

Going into last week’s games, Palodichuk was leading all freshmen in the Atlantic Coast Conference with six goals and 14 points, and was sixth and eighth, respectively, in those categories among all ACC players. He tallied another assist last week.

Duke’s Andrew Wenger, the ACC player of the week who leads the team with 15 goals and 37 points, credited the team’s four starting freshmen as key for the Blue Devils, who are 7-4-1, 3-1-1 in ACC play.

“First off, (the freshmen) have been fantastic players from day one,” Wenger toldsocceramerica.com. “They’ve gotten used to the speed of play and the physicality of it. And also more so than that we’ve grown as a team. We understand how we play and the style of play we’re going to play, when we’re going to go long, when we’re going to come short. Those kinds of things have been really building and coming together.”

Duke’s match Friday at Maryland will be available online at espn3.com, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. Pacific.

CCC honors Brace

Concordia junior forward Jared Brace was named Cascade Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Week after scoring all of the Cavaliers’ goals in a 4-3 win Saturday over Warner Pacific.

“Brace had a huge game for us,” coach Dan Birkey told gocugo.com about the Columbia River High School graduate, who entered the game with one goal this season. “He was overdue for a game like that as he has been working hard in training to stay sharp. He showed a lot of movement which created seams and a lot of composure in shot taking.”

Suggestions for College Notebook? Contact Kurt Zimmer at 360-735-4563 or by e-mail at kurt.zimmer@columbian.comv