Bri Alger wasn’t thrilled about the idea of moving from forward to left center back for the Washington State women’s soccer team. But the Lewis-Palmer alumna is thriving at her new position — and so are the Cougars.
Twice already this season, the junior has been named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. And that was in the team’s first nine games, where the Cougars went 8-1. Their lone loss was to No. 24 Michigan.
“I wasn’t sure how I’d do in a new position, but to get the awards confirms I’m doing an OK job,” Alger said last week while waiting to board a plane in Spokane as her team traveled to northern California for conference games at No. 2-ranked Stanford and No. 20 Cal-Berkeley. “I can always be better. Obviously, I have to continue to learn the position.”
Alger, who naturally kicks left-footed, played forward her first two seasons for the Cougars, starting 25 of 42 games. She scored five goals with two assists.
Last season, she earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention.
Her scoring total was drastically down from her prep days for the Rangers, where she led the team in scoring each of her four varsity years with Lewis-Palmer. She tallied 91 goals in 73 games while leading the Rangers to the 2016 Class 4A state championship.
“It’s a different game in college; not as much scoring and not as many opportunities,” said Alger, who is majoring in business with plans to become a real estate agent.
Alger was a forward her entire soccer career, but she is adapting well to being a defender. She already has a team-leading six assists this season. She believes she is having success because she sees the entire field.
“I’m having fun with it,” Alger said. “Because of my position I have the freedom to go up and attack.”
Alger earned her first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week award after a season-opening performance on both sides of the ball against Seattle. She tallied a pair of assists on the opening two goals of the season. The Cougars shut out Seattle in the process.
Alger earned her second honor in late September with dominating performances against Hawaii and Pepperdine. She tallied game-winning assists in both matches.
“Bri has been our best ball handler and distributor,” said Ben Laskey, Washington State’s assistant director, athletic communications, for soccer. “She’s a great one-on-one defender.”
Alger is following in the footsteps of former Washington State defensive star Maddy Haro, who spent her first two collegiate seasons as a forward before moving to defender and earning All-Pac-12 honors last fall as a senior.
“Maddy was amazing,” Alger said. “I watched how she made the transition and that gave me inspiration that I could do it, too.”
The Cougars ranked 14th in the nation heading into last week’s games.
Washington State made the NCAA playoffs each of Alger’s first two seasons, losing in the second round and third round, respectively, in 2017 and 2018.
“Our goal is to advance deeper this season, and I believe we can do it,” she said.
Alger entered Washington State with an impressive resume. She was a two-time Colorado High School Activities Association 4A Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year and four-time Pike’s Peak Athletic Conference Player of the Year. She was also a member of the 2016 National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American team.
Alger said she has enjoyed her time at Washington State, which is located in Pullman in eastern Washington.
“Pullman is a small town with big school spirit, “ she said. “Just like Monument.”