By Chris Trujillo
EDMONDS – Popularity has its price, and Edmonds Community College women’s soccer player Marrisa Brooks has to pay it every time she takes the field.
However, it doesn’t seem to bother her, or deplete the bank of opportunities she continues to create despite the constant attention and extra coverage she demands.
Brooks, who leads the league in goals with 15, four less than last year’s total of 19, is usually shadowed by multiple defenders. Also, she is frequently the subject of specific game plans aimed at stopping her. Nevertheless, she continues to find ways to elude the pressure and create scoring opportunities. It’s an ability that’ll likely land her in the league all-star game, which would be her second in as many years.
“She definitely has a knack for scoring,” Edmonds CC coach Teddy Mitalas said. “But when you play as well as she does, you become marked, and she definitely is. That’s just what happens.”
So far, the former Seattle Prep High School graduate has led the Tritons to a 10-2-1 record (31 points), good for second place in the league standings with three games remaining. During last week’s important victories against North Idaho, Walla Walla and Bellevue, Brooks scored five goals, two of which came against North Idaho in a 3-1 victory. The victory sent North Idaho from its first-place perch to third, one point behind EdCC.
The day before, she broke a 0-0 game with penalty-kick goal just before halftime in the team’s 3-0 victory against fourth-place Spokane.
“She is very strong,” said Mitalas, who has applied for the Western Washington University women’s soccer coaching job, which will be available at the end of the Vikings’ season. “Portland State really likes Marrisa, but if I were to get the job at Western, I’d bring with me.”
Part of the reason Brooks has been able to score as often as she does, despite the other teams’ persistent coverage, is because Mitalas likes to move her away from her striker position to different areas on the field. According Mitalas, it not only creates mismatches, but it also throws a wrench in the opposing team’s game plan.
“We put her in all different positions,” Mitalas said. “It gives us a chance to free her up. She gets frustrated with the attention, but she understands. And she does great to get around it.”
The Tritons, last year’s league champion, finish this year’s regular season with games against three of the league’s cellar dwellers – at Skagit Valley, at home against Wenatchee Valley, and at Everett. EdCC should easily sweep the three games considering the opponents’ dismal combined record of 4-28-2.
It’s fairly certain that EdCC won’t finish worse than second place. A first-place finish would see EdCC host the Southwest Conference’s fourth-place team, while second place hosts the conference’s third-place team. Currently three Southwest Conference teams are vying for third and fourth places. Lower Columbia is tied with Clark for third with a record of 6-3-1. Highline, at 5-5 can still sneak in depending on its season-ending finales.
Healthy and dangerous: It’s taken 14 games, but the Edmonds Community men’s soccer team is finally at full force.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
With four games remaining, the Tritons will finish the season and enter the playoffs with the return of defenders Winfred Smith and Igor Zuyev.
Smith, a freshman, missed nearly the entire season due to a back injury. According EdCC coach Eddie Fernandez, Smith, who went out during the team’s first game in early September, should return Wednesday against Peninsula. Zuyev, who missed the better part of the second half of the season with an knee injury, returned last week in the team’s 3-2 loss to first-place North Idaho.
“We’ve been banged up all year,” Fernandez said. “It seemed like every time we got healthy we would lose someone.”
Despite mounting a 10-2-2 record, EdCC has appeared soft defensively, giving up 29 goals, nine more than Bellevue and 15 more than North Idaho. According to Fernandez, the loss of Zuyev and Smith has limited his personnel changes and the ability to run different types of defensive schemes.
“Those two bring speed and talent to the defense,” Fernandez said. “They allow me so many other options I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
For starters, with Smith and Zuyev roaming the defensive zone, Fernandez has the luxury of keeping three defenders back, instead of four, like he’s been forced to do in their absence. According to Fernandez, their excellent speed allows them to fill gaps that could form with the absence of a fourth defender. On the flip side, that fourth would-be defender can now move up and support the team’s highly effective offense, which includes the league’s top scorer Ryan Hopp and the league’s fifth leading scorer Patrick Pollock.
With last year’s first-round playoff loss, which came on the heels of a sterling 16-0 regular season, still stinging, Fernandez is trying to dodge any other potential injury, beginning with Hopp, who missed the team’s showdown with North Idaho last week because of a sore leg.
“I am focusing on the big picture,” he said. “The (North Idaho) coach was really surprised not to see Ryan out on the field. But I decided to look at the big picture of the whole thing because when we are healthy, we can play with anyone.”
Ground Floor residents: The Everett Community College men’s soccer team has been shacked up in the low rent, ground-floor level of the Northeast Division since the beginning of the season. With the season coming to an end, the Trojans are desperately seeking their first win of the year, which was nowhere to be seen this past week.
The Trojans dropped three games by a total of 12 goals, while falling to 0-10-0. Walla Walla shut out EvCC 3-0, Columbia Basin won 5-0 and Wenatchee took home a 5-1 victory. So far, EvCC has scored just four goals, while the defense has surrendered 49.
The Trojans, however, still have four games to collect that elusive win. They travel to Skagit Valley on Wednesday and Bellevue on Friday.