Brooke Knight may have a smile on her face more often than not, but her demeanor on the field is anything but carefree.
The junior spent the vast majority of the first decade and a half of her soccer career playing offense, but ever since Plattsburgh State women’s soccer head coach Tania Armellino switched Knight from striker to centerback on a gut feeling two years ago, Knight has spent the past two seasons both developing as an elite defender and stifling opponent offenses at the same time.
Knight came into PSUC as a striker, an offensive position specializing in getting past the last defender and burying the ball in the back of the goal.
However, Armellino saw something in Knight, mostly her speed, which gave her the idea to mix things up during an in-conference game against Cortland Knight’s freshman year.
“We were playing Cortland at home and it was both mine and her first time through SUNYAC play. There was a very good player on cortland, a girl who scored most of their goals. I said ‘I’m gonna have you mark her woman to woman. Stay inside deny her from going to goal.’ We ended up winning the game 3-0 and the girl didn’t even get a solid shot attempt at goal. We knew we were onto something then.”
Knight said she is almost surprised by how much she enjoys the switch, but is not surprised that she is playing well.
“I really have enjoyed the switch. I have done a lot of learning but have enjoyed all of it a lot,” Knight said. “I think as a former offensive player I can get into the head of the player I’m guarding and that helps so much too.”
Onto something they were, as Knight went on to be named to the SUNYAC All-Conference first team last season, and has played more than well enough to be up to on that list at the end of the season again.
Knight came to Plattsburgh State for a few reasons. One was the close proximity to her home as a Plattsburgh native, and another was the fact that she was being offered to run track for the Cardinals as well.
Knight spent her first two seasons at PSUC as a two sport athlete between Track and Field and Soccer, but is not running track for the first time this season. Her decision to step away was fueled by a growing disinterest with the team and sport.
“I just didn’t feel that push, connection and drive anymore,” Knight said. “We have such a close team in soccer and it is such an “us” thing. On track I kind of felt alone a lot of the time.”
If there is anyone that was as happy as Knight about deciding to stay home it is her mother Susan Schlierer. Schlierer said that she has known Knight was something special on the field since she was very young, and has known she is special off the field even longer than that.
“She’s been playing soccer well since elementary school,” Schlierer said. “She has always been strong with great self-confidence, yet still very sensitive.”
Schlierer also enjoys being able to watch her daughter play more consistently than if she had traveled away to school.
Knight will be leading the Cardinal defensive line this weekend against Oswego in the first round of the SUNYAC tournament, and if her play continues at the same pace it has all season the Lakers are in trouble.
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