Dolores Browning is determined to make her final season of soccer at Cal State Fullerton as good as she can make it.
"As a senior, it really means a lot to me," Browning said.
Let her start counting the ways.
"For one thing, I want to prove to myself that I'm a much better player than I showed last year," Browning said.
As a freshman, Browning burst on the scene with 24 goals--third highest in the nation in college women's soccer. Her sophomore season also was solid with 17 goals, and she was selected Big West player of the year.
Then she struggled last season when she scored only seven goals.
"It was a horrible year," Browning said. "I didn't take good shots, and I didn't make the most of the chances I had."
But this is a new season, and Browning appears to be back to her old form.
A move to a new position seems to have helped. Coach Al Mistri shifted her from forward to midfielder, and she's getting more scoring opportunities. She already has surpassed her total last season, with a team-leading eight goals in 10 games.
"A year ago she was getting kicked a lot, and pushed around," Mistri said. "In her first two years, she surprised a lot of people, and they weren't ready for her. They really started marking her closely last year. But this way she has more room around her, and that gives her more room to maneuver."
Bob Ammann, a former professional player who is one of Mistri's assistants, also thinks the position change has helped. "If you're creative, you can find more ways to get free as a midfielder than as a striker," Ammann said. "She's very active, and that helps."
Part of Browning's problem a year ago was an ankle injury halfway through the season. "I probably should have taken some time off to rest the ankle, but I guess I didn't accept that I was really injured," Browning said. "It was a bad sprain, and it limited what I could do the rest of the season. But I still thought I should have done better. My touch wasn't good, and my shots were off."
Browning says she made up her mind to return in better physical shape this fall. "I ran constantly during the summer," she said. "I'd run at least five miles a day at least five days a week. I wasn't in good shape a year ago, and I think that hurt me."
There are also other incentives.
The Big West was awarded an automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs when the tournament field was expanded to 48 teams. "That's a huge boost for all of us in the conference," Browning said. "We've never had that chance before."
Browning also wants her final college season to be a tribute to her aunt, Oliva Villegas, who died of cancer two years ago. She helped Browning get started in soccer in the youth program in her hometown of Lakewood.
"She loved watching me play," Browning said. "She took me to AYSO when I was only 4 1/2 years old, and her son coached me in AYSO. She's always been a great inspiration to me. My parents have been too. They haven't missed a game in the four years I've been playing in college. They kept my spirits up last year when I wasn't playing well."
Browning already is the Titan career goal-scoring leader with 56.
Collegiate Baseball has rated the Titan baseball recruiting class as the 10th best in the country this year.
Georgia Tech's class was rated No. 1 followed by Miami, Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Stanford, Arizona State, Florida State and Oklahoma. Four players, including two high school pitchers, reportedly turned down bonuses of $250,000 or more to play at Georgia Tech.
The rating considers transfers from community colleges and four-year schools as well as freshmen.
The Titans have added a new twist for their track program this year.
Fullerton will have a women's indoor team that will compete in four meets, including the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor championship meet in Reno Feb. 19-20. The season opens Jan. 23 with the Silver State Indoor Invitational, also at Nevada.
The move adds another women's team to help gender-equity balance. It also provides a financial boost for the overall women's program.
"We'll pick up an additional $5,000 for scholarships, and $10,000 for travel," Coach John Elders said.
The budget increase also enabled assistant coach Ron Kamaka to move from part-time to full-time status.
"We think it will be good for our women to have the additional early competition leading into the outdoor season," Elders said. "The only problem is that there are a limited number of indoor track facilities on the West Coast. Our options for meets are limited unless we travel to the Midwest."
Katie Crawford, expected to be a key player for the women's volleyball team as a middle blocker, missed the start of the season because of an off-season knee injury, and now she's having shoulder problems.
Crawford played only one game in one match against Portland more than two weeks ago.
"There's the possibility now that she could be redshirted," Coach Mary Ellen Murchison said. "She's going to see the doctor this week, and we should know more after that."
The Titans were 9-11 when Crawford was in the lineup last season, but only 3-7 when she was out.