This week’s Pilot in the Spotlight is women’s soccer player junior Larkin Russell, who was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week for her stellar performance last weekend.
The midfielder helped her team with the Nike Invitational last weekend with two assists in the 2-1 win against Utah Valley on Friday. On Sunday, she scored a goal against UC Irvine, which gave her team a 1-0 lead. They finished the game 2-0 and won the Invitational overall.
“It was really exciting to be recognized for WCC player of the week because I had never been recognized before,” Russell said in an email. “But definitely more exciting that our team came out of the weekend with two hard fought wins. I’m looking forward to us battling against some of our best opponents when we start the WCC.”
Russell started playing soccer at just five years old, and was playing for club team during high school in Spokane, Washington when former head coach Garrett Smith recruited her for the Portland Pilots.
After Smith saw her play in a tournament in Seattle, Russell committed to UP and travelled down to Portland to spend the summer before her freshman year training with the team.
“I had come to a soccer game at UP when I was younger, and I fell in love with the environment and everything about the team,” Russell said. “I knew about their previous runs in the NCAA tournament and I wanted to be a part of something that great.”
This is Russell’s third year with the Pilots, and with the new coaching staff – including new head coach Michelle French – she said this current season has been a positive one. The women’s team is currently 4-3.
“We fight hard every game for each other, and that’s something that I think has helped us find our wins,” Russell said. “We fight hard every game for each other and I think this will continue to help us on the field especially."
Last year, the Pilots’ had a losing season, finishing 2-7 in conference play. This year, Russell hopes to set the program on an upward trend.
“I expect us to keep improving our record as we move through this season and get results in the WCC,” Russell said.