October 22, 2008

Freshman Chang Provides Offensive Spark for Red

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Freshman forward Brook Chang has proved she is no stranger to the soccer field, consistently contributing to the offensive line in her first season playing with the Red.
During her opening collegiate performance in the Oakland University match, Chang showed her notable ball-handling skills and played an important role in the Red’s victory by scoring her first goal. Since that game, Chang has taken the lead in goal scoring, making her third in last weekend’s matchup against Yale. She is tied with sophomore forward Lena Russomagno as the highest point grabber on the team, with six this season.
Chang, a Clifton, Va., native, joined the team this season as a highly anticipated recruit with leadership experience, numerous accomplishments and an overall impressive soccer background.
While playing for Bishop O’Connell High School, she was twice named the team MVP and team captain. During her high school years, Chang was a four-time all-conference pick, and received first-time honors twice. In 2004, she was part of the NSCAA/Adidas High School National Champion team, and last year she was named to the Washington Post All-MET First Team.
In addition to playing on her high school team, Chang also played club soccer for Reston FC, along with two fellow freshman players, Abigail Apistolas and Kelsey MacDonald. Playing on the same club team gave these three an opportunity to begin playing together and getting familiar with each other’s style of play even before coming to Cornell. In 2006, she helped the club to win the Virginia State Cup title, and the squad made the semifinals in 2005, 2007 and 2008. [img_assist|nid=32866|title=Freshman phenom|desc=Freshman forward Brook Chang (20) has six points so far this season — tied for the team lead with sophomore captain Lena Russomagno.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Chang gained leadership experience through captaining her high school team and by playing on the Virginia State Olympic Development Program team. In her senior season, Chang was the captain of this team, and was a five-time member of the ODP.
Chang has transitioned nicely from high school to Division 1 level play, and continues to adjust and improve with each new experience on the field.
“When I came here and I played my first game [I realized that] the speed of play is so much faster,” Chang said. “You have to play faster and think quicker and it’s such a more physical game in college, especially at the Division 1 level.”
According to Chang, getting feedback from her coaches is of vital importance to her development as a college player. She tries to note every criticism and learn from each of her mistakes so that each move can be better than her last.
“[Head coach Danielle LaRoche], she is a really laid back person, but when it comes to soccer and the games, she can be really intense and she’ll tell you how it is,” Chang said. “If I’m missing shots and if I touch and I’m having a poor touch, and I’m not playing up to my full potential, she will tell me that. I think that really helps, that she’s so straightforward with me.”
Not only Chang’s coach, but also her teammates provide the support and constructive criticism essential to helping her bring out her best abilities on the field.
“As a team, we demand a lot out of each other, so when I’m having all this constant feedback from all my teammates and my coaches, I think it really helps me to improve my game,” Chang said.
Joining the Red with a big recruiting class of eight other freshmen this year, it might have seemed daunting for any new player to find her place on the team. Yet Chang contends that there was a positive team dynamic early on in the season, and that her supportive teammates helped her to adjust to college soccer and to become a stronger player.
“There was an instant chemistry coming onto the team, during preseason,” said Chang. “With all the freshmen, we all just kind of clicked, so we have really good chemistry amongst us, and we all get along so well. It’s not just us, it the entire team. We all get along really well, on and off the field.”
Chang believes that she and the other freshmen are given a chance to excel on the team, because of the way in which the upperclassmen accepted them to the team without pretense. This attitude has allowed them to be able to continue learning from each other throughout the season.
“The upperclassmen weren’t looking down on the freshmen in any way, and I think that was really helpful to us because they actually helped us and supported us,” said Chang.
Chang has not only noticed a change in herself as a player this season, but has also observed the team progress as a whole, through building on small things learned in each game.
“This past game against Columbia, and in last weekend’s game, I feel like as a team we’ve played better just because we’ve learned from all of our mistakes,” said Chang.
Although the team is currently in a slide, its efforts and improvements should not go unnoticed. The team has made important steps forward in the past weeks, and with new skill, exemplified by this standout freshman, it will only continue to develop.
“Our record is not that great, but I don’t think that our record and scores really do justice to how good our team is,” said Chang. “Although we have lost some of the games, we’re growing so much as a team, and I know that we can only improve from here and get better from here. We’re almost there — we just need that little extra push.”