Oct. 30, 2008
By Steve Brandon
The Portland Tribune
The Portland Pilots patiently let Schmidt take some time to get acclimated when she returned from her tour of duty in China with the Canadian Olympic team.
Last weekend, she exploded.
Her offensive flourish -- two goals in a 52-second span in a 2-0 win at San Francisco and then a goal 46 seconds into a 3-0 victory at Saint Mary's -- earned her West Coast Conference player-of-the-week honors.
In her last seven games, Schmidt has scored seven goals, and the third-ranked Pilots are 15-1-0 with two regular-season games remaining.
"Any pro athlete, right before playoff time, talks about stepping it up another notch," Portland Garrett Smith says. "Sophie recognizes what time of year it is."
A couple of weeks ago, the sophomore midfielder from Abbotsford, British Columbia and Smith talked about goals for the rest of the season.
"She said she felt great and was ready to get after it," Smith says. "We had been trying to ease her back in. The Olympics is a huge burden, physically and mentally. We wanted her to be fresh and have a chance to settle back into school and the team."Now it appears that Schmidt has settled in, also, on the attack with freshman Danielle Foxhoven, the Pilots' leading scorer.
In 16 games (all starts) and 1,096 minutes, Foxhoven has scored 14 goals. In 15 games (12 starts) and 900 minutes, Schmidt has eight goals.
Next on the UP goal list are Michelle Enyeart and Elli Reed, with five apiece.
Enyeart, Reed and Keelin Winters will leave the Pilots at the end of the regular season to play for the United States' under-20 team in the Women's World Cup in Chile. So the focus of the Portland offense will be on Foxhoven and Schmidt even more -- and Smith is thrilled with the pairing.
"It's awesome," he says. "They're two great ballplayers. Both are very, very technical and can handle pressure. Every game they look more comfortable together and more dynamic."
The 5-6 Foxhoven is more of a target forward and opportunist. Schmidt, 5-7, is strong and assertive.
"It's been a great ham-and-egg combo," Schmidt says. "Sophie is built more like a holding midfielder. Defenders don't rattle her much. She holds her ground when a big center back tries to push her around."
Foxhoven is perhaps more likely to clean up around the net and draw penalty kicks. She got one in the Saint Mary's game, when she was taken down in the box.
"When Danielle turns the corner on people and gets bumped, she goes down. That's exactly what she's trying to do," Smith says. "Sophie probably deserves as many penalty kicks as Danielle, but she's a little stronger -- she gets fouled but holds her ground.
"They're both very comfortable with the ball, though, and in traffic."
Schmidt, 20, sat out the 2006 season because of Canadian national team commitments and missed the first eight games of the 2007 season while playing for Canada at the Women's World Cup. She began her college career at forward, because of UP's injury issues, and finished her freshman season with seven goals and seven assists in 14 games to rank fourth in the WCC in points (21).
This year, Schmidt has three assists and 19 points. Foxhoven, who turns 19 on Nov. 9, has two assists and 30 points.
The Pilots have two big matches left before the NCAA Division I playoffs. They'll wrap up the regular-season home schedule at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against rival Santa Clara and play Nov. 8 at San Diego.
Santa Clara has fallen off the national-contender map. The Broncos are 4-11-3 overall and 1-3-1 in the WCC.
San Diego, on the other hand, will be playing Portland for the conference title. The 16th-ranked Toreros have won six matches in a row. They are 5-0-0 in the conference and 13-3-2 overall. They opened the season with a 1-0 overtime loss to defending national champion USC and a 1-0 loss to UC Santa Barbara. Their other loss was 3-0 to UCLA. Their ties came with New Mexico and Miami.