Eryn Brown trusts her knee again.
Results have followed.
Portland State’s leading goal scorer as a freshman in 2010, the Camas High School graduate is back in that form after one season lost to injury and another regaining confidence.
Brown — who led the Vikings as a freshman with six goals for the season — has tallied five times in as many games this season for Portland State (2-3-0).
In the last two games since moving from outside midfield to forward in PSU’s 4-4-2 formation, she posted a hat trick and two assists in a 7-0 win over New Mexico State, then found the back of the net twice in the first 13 minutes of a 4-0 win over Cal State Bakersfield.
She was named Big Sky Conference offensive player of the week for the first time in her career after the NMSU victory at the UNLV Nike Invitational, and was also an all-tournament team selection.
“Eryn had another big performance today off a couple of tremendous assists,” PSU coach Laura Schott told the school website goviks.com. “She is a force when she goes to the goal aggressively.”
While Brown was unable to play soccer in her second year at PSU, she could still go to class — and excelled there, as well. An Academic All-Big Sky honoree in each of her first two playing seasons, she is on track to graduate after winter term with a degree in finance.
She can choose to graduate and give up her fourth season of soccer, but is considering extending her academic career — not by
slowing down her academic progress, but by pursuing a second degree in accounting. That is still a decision for the future.
“I really just decided that hey, this could possibly be my last year, I’m just going to go all-out,” Brown said. “I love soccer so much, so I kind of put less pressure on myself. Coming back after having contributed so much then going through an ACL injury, I really, really wanted to pick up that same contributing that I was doing before. You can’t force things in soccer. They just have to come. You have to let the game flow. It just took some remembering to get back into it.”
Big impact in Big Sky
Starting her college career strong, Brown was a All-Big Sky second-team selection and was named to the conference’s all-tournament team as a freshman.
“Going into college, I just wanted to do the best I could, I guess,” Brown said. “I wanted to be the top scorer, and I was my freshman year. I actually achieved more than I hoped for my first year. I came in with the attitude that I was going to have to fight for my starting spot, so I just fought and I was successful. I was just happy to be part of the team right away.”
What was supposed to be Brown’s sophomore season in 2011 ended for her before it started when the anterior cruciate ligament was torn and meniscus damaged in her right knee on a freak play during the team’s final preseason match.
“It was a really silly play,” she said. “It was just an awkward kick. Nobody even touched me.”
After surgery and a year of rehabilitation, she came back last season. She played in 19 matches and started five, finishing the year with no goals and one assist.
“The whole year after that was just hard because I just didn’t trust my knee,” Brown said.
Confidence in her rebuilt knee returned through the following offseason.
“I definitely have a scoring mentality,” she said. “I’m always thinking about, ‘How can I get to goal?”
Going ‘home’ again
While she is playing college soccer near her home, she will be playing in her original home this weekend. The Honolulu-born Brown and the Vikings are headed next to the University of Hawaii’s Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Soccer Classic, with matches Friday against Florida Gulf Coast and Sunday against the tournament host Rainbow Wahine.
The players might get a little leisure time, but they are not going on vacation.
“I don’t think it’s hard for me, because I’m from there. It’s not like, ‘Oooh — vacation time!’ ” said Brown, who has family on the islands and has visited many times. “And I don’t think it’s really that hard for the whole team.”
After a Sept. 22 home match at Hillsboro Stadium against the University of San Francisco, the Vikings begin Big Sky action by playing host to Northern Colorado on Sept. 27 and North Dakota on Sept. 29.
By playing together and pressuring opponents from the opening kickoff, Brown said the Vikings aim to be “one of the 64” teams in the NCAA tournament by advancing past the Big Sky tournament for the first time in program history.