Opponents of the Eastern Washington women's soccer team are starting to have to pick their poison.
Cassie Black was an immediate scoring threat last year as a true freshman, leading the Eagles with six goals and netting both game-winners in a trying 2-13-1 season.
By now a marked woman as a sophomore, the Battle Ground High School graduate is capitalizing on the extra attention by becoming also a distributor.
"When they target me, I just have to try and serve the ball to other forwards and get other people in on the attack and scoring," Black said. "It's harder because now I have a target on my back, but it's easier because we step on the field with more confidence. My teammates can trust me serving more balls in, so I get more balls and more shots."
Black has five goals and two assists in 10 games this season, with four game-winning goals -- including one in Sunday's 2-1 home Big Sky Conference win over Idaho State.
At 4-5-1, EWU has already doubled last season's win total.
The Eagles are 1-1 in Big Sky matches after going 1-5-1 a year ago.
"This year we're stronger in the back, and up front, we're just finishing off opportunities," Black said. "Last year, we had opportunities, but just didn't finish."
Black said she is "definitely" more comfortable as a collegiate soccer player after a season of experience.
"I'm a sophomore, and I feel like I'm coming back stronger and more confident. Leading the team last year in goals, I knew that I had to step up for the team again this year. They expect a lot of every player, and we have to show up for every game."
Youth is served on the Eagles this season, with eight freshmen and seven sophomores on the roster. Most of the sophomores are starters, Black said.
Black said the Eagles are aiming to land a spot in the conference tournament. The Big Sky tournament winner secures an automatic bid to the College Cup, the NCAA Division I championship tournament.
Black and the Eagles play at Portland State on Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at PSU's home field, Hillsboro Stadium, where the Eagles defeated Boise State in an early-season tournament.
"I'm really excited to play back in Portland, for one because we got our first big win in Portland, so it feels good to get back on that field where we gained so much confidence," Black said. "It's always fun to play in Portland, because it's the closest I get to Battle Ground. My family comes and my friends come, and it's just awesome that they get to see me close to home."
EOU's Sorensen garners CCC honors
Eastern Oregon University sophomore outside hitter Stefani Sorensen was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Player of the Week as well as Hitter of the Week.
The Camas High School graduate had 34 kills and a hitting percentage of .441 in wins over Concordia and Warner Pacific. She is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.301) and third in kills at 3.07 a game.
Klettke places fifth at Erik Anderson Invite
Lewis-Clark State College senior Kelsey Klettke placed fifth at the Erik Anderson Invitational cross-country race Saturday at Plantes Ferry in the Spokane area. The Prairie High School graduate, an NAIA All-American in 2010 who redshirted last year because of injury, finished the 5-kilomter (3.1-mile) course in 18 minutes, 28.76 seconds. The Warriors, ranked No. 9 in NAIA, placed third.
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