LaPorte sophomore soccer player Brooke Pissarski is more than taken aback with her rapid development at forward.
"I'm really shocked," said Pissarski, who's primarily played fullback her soccer life. "I wasn't sure what to do (originally). When the ball came toward me, I just kicked it forward. I never thought I could aim the ball and shoot it where I wanted it to go."
Pissarski's deft placement is the main reason she's first in assists (eight) and tied for the team lead in goals (10) for the Times No. 8 Slicers (7-5-1).
"Every ball she hits with pace and it's shoulder high," LaPorte coach Bryan Murray said. "She knows where she's going with it, and she's deadly accurate.
"The defense cannot tell whether she's going back post or someone is going to run on it for a header."
All of this from someone who grew up playing the game with a defensive mindset.
Graduation losses and a few other missing faces forced coach Murray to change his lineup a season ago. Pissarski was moved up front, and it was hardly an instantaneous transformation against grueling Duneland Athletic Conference foes and other solid competition.
"I was kind of timid," said Pissarski, who started soccer when she was 5 years old. "I was so nervous, because I didn't want to make a mistake. I wouldn't shoot."
Backyard training sessions with her father Stan helped speed up the learning curve.
"One day (two summers ago) he said, 'I'm going to show you how to kick," Brooke recalled. "He wanted me to run at the ball at an angle. Then I worked on bending the shot. I really got it down last summer."
Pissarski has also become more skilled with her on-the-ball play.
"She can beat the initial defender one-on-one," Murray said. "That's why she can be so tough."
Teamed with Indiana State recruit Kesley Zawada (10 goals, three assists), the Slicers have developed an effective 1-2 offensive combination. Pissarski remained productive when Zawada missed a three-game stretch with a hairline fracture in her hip. Pissarski totaled four goals and two assists as the Slicers went 2-1 in Zawada's absence.
"It's still nicer to have her back," Pissarski said. "It was a big thing to overcome. I had to step up and try to shoot more."
Pissarski continues to answer the challenge.
"I just thought of this as an opportunity to open up my game, because I've always want to play in college," she said. "It's so different to look back and see how timid I was at first. It's amazing."