Still going strong

Ladner's Julie Armstrong readies for third season with Oregon Ducks

Ladner's Julie Armstrong (number 9) and a University of Southern California Trojan fight for possession of the ball. Armstrong is gearing up for another year with the University of Oregon Ducks.

There’s little time to rest for homegrown soccer star Julie Armstrong.

As the 21-year-old Ladner native wraps up another season with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC women’s team, she is already training for pre-season play with the University of Oregon Ducks.

The Whitecaps acquired Armstrong in 2008 after she graduated from the Prospects program. This past season, the 5-foot-10, 155-pound midfielder/striker played just 25 minutes in three games with the ‘Caps while she turned her attention to school.

Armstrong is going into her junior year at the University of Oregon where she majors in sociology. She is also gearing up for her third season with the Ducks NCAA Division 1 soccer team after starting in six of her 16 matches with the team in 2010-11.

Armstrong, who has also played with Canada’s national team, says she has matured on the field since her years with Delta Secondary School and Lower Mainland clubs.

“I understand the game better,” she says. “Knowing what passes are good, what runs to make.”

“I’m a little bit stronger too from lifting (weights) here at school and I’m more dominant in the air.”

Last fall, after much discussion with her coaches, Armstrong switched from forward to centre-midfield.

“I wasn’t seeing much of the ball up front,” she says, adding the new position has allowed her to be more involved in play and use her vision on the field.

Whitecaps women’s team captain Kelsey Hood also plays centre midfield and helped Armstrong get comfortable with the role.

“Watching her really made me understand that position better,” she says.

After two years south of the border, Armstrong has grown to love her new home in Eugene, Oregon.

“At the beginning it was kind of iffy, but I love it here now. It’s all greenery and trees and rivers and lakes, it’s beautiful.”

The Ducks’ pre-season starts with the Boise State Tournament Aug. 19 and 21.

Armstrong is hoping for a “clean season” and aims to be a leader on the field and guide the 12 new freshmen joining the team.

“My freshman year I didn’t think personally I played that well, and then last year I was injured for two and a half months,” she says, explaining she stretched a ligament after rolling her left ankle.

She will talk with the Whitecaps women’s head coach around Christmas to discuss her role in the team’s 2012 season.

Though Armstrong didn’t get much action with the ‘Caps in 2011, she was proud to see the women advance to the United Soccer League’s W-League playoffs.

She’s particularly proud of her former Ducks teammate Jennifer Stoltenberg who joined the Whitecaps forward line after four years in Oregon.

“The girls are amazing,” Armstrong says. “They are very determined and passionate about the game too. This was probably the best season yet I’ve had with the Whitecaps.”

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