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Growing skills downstate

Brandi Dawson says her stint at OSU has taught her alot about playing soccer


by: COURTESY PHOTO - Former Vikings standout Brandi Dawson has had a breakout junior year for the Oregon State Beavers. The Oregon State women’s soccer team has been the whipping child of University of Portland for just about as long as the series has been in existence. Coming into this season’s match at the University of Portland on Aug. 20, the Beavers were 1-23-1 against the Pilots.

The score of that match was knotted at 0-0 heading into the 25th minute. Then, the Beavers earned a corner kick.

Megan Miller placed a ball into the 18-yard-box. When she saw the service, Beavers junior midfielder and Forest Grove High School alumna Brandi Dawson charged in. She reached the ball when it was 12 yards out from goal, leapt up and sent a header past the UP goal keeper.

“Megan Miller put it in perfectly,” Dawson says. “I had tons of space, tons of time and just put it into the net. Meagan put in a pretty strong ball. It made it a lot easier.”

The goal was all the Beavers needed to hold on for the 1-0 win.

Looking back on it, Dawson, a Forest Grove High alum is sure that the match-winner was the highlight of her collegiate career.

“That was a really good moment for me,” Dawson says. “It was a team that our team has always struggled to beat. To put away that goal and for our team to finally beat them, it was really special to be apart of it and know that I was able to get that goal. It was the highlight so far.”

Growing up, Dawson was always athletic.

“I played just about every sport there was,” Dawson says. “I just really enjoyed playing.”

When she got to Forest Grove High, Dawson realized that soccer was her true love.

“That was my favorite because you’re able to be so creative on the ball,” Dawson says. “A lot of other sports are kind of confined to what you can do. But with soccer there are so many options and you have to be the one who decides what you’re going to do.”

When Dawson got to Forest Grove, the Vikings girls soccer team was down. Dawson was a star, though. As a junior she scored 16 goals and had nine assists. Her senior season she scored 22 goals and had 16 assists. Just as important as her own performance was helping to rebuild the Vikings program.

“At the time the Forest Grove program was struggling,” Dawson says. “But my class did a lot of work and was able to build up the program. My senior year we made it to the playoffs for the first time in quite awhile. It was really good to be a part of that and to see that program and everything around it and the community support build through the years.”

After her prep career ended, Dawson decided to go to Oregon State to play soccer.

“I was looking at a couple of different schools,” Dawson says. “When I went on my visit, I saw the campus, met the coaches and everything just kind of clicked. I was like, ‘This is where I want to go.’”

Dawson had a difficult time adjusting to the new competition during her freshman season. She improved a lot, though, appearing in seven matches that season.

“My first year it was a bit of a struggle,” Dawson says. “I didn’t play much because I was a freshman. But, it was really good for me. That was one of my biggest years for improvement. You go from a lower level to a huge, high level and you get to play with other great players. It really helped me develop as a player.”

Dawson missed several games her sophomore season because of a meniscus tear in her knee. By the time that she got back on the pitch, though, she was playing near 100 percent.

“It took me about four months to recover,” Dawson says. “But, they had me recover to the point where I felt just about 100 percent when I jumped back on the field. They didn’t want to put me in too early. That was good and I felt very well prepared to jump right back in.”

As a sophomore, Dawson played in 13 matches and scored her first career goal against Florida International and collected an assist against Colorado.

“I gained a lot of experience being out on the field,” Dawson says. “I was learning from the other players and the coaches, who taught me how to hold up the ball and be patient.”

This season, Dawson has two goals and two assists. She says that she has become a more refined and mature player since she first began playing at OSU.

“The biggest thing is that I’ve learned to be a lot more patient on the ball,” Dawson says. “Before I would get a little bit too frantic. Now I make sure to take my time, see all of my options. I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of how the play is going to develop so that I can play quickly and be patient when I have the ball at my feet. And I’ve been a little bit more driven when I have the ball to go to goal.”

Dawson says that she hopes the rest of this season and her senior season are filled with more highlights like she experienced against the University of Portland. She wants those highlights not so much for herself, but because she knows it will mean that the Beavers will be winning matches.

“I always want to get more goals,” Dawson says. “Moments like that are great to have, but what I want is just for our team to do the best that we can. To get another goal like that would be great because I know that our team would win.”