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Sophomore Elder got late start in soccer, but was quick learner

Kids start playing soccer these days as soon as they can walk. Wright State sophomore Brett Elder, the team’s leading scorer, didn’t start playing until he was 10.

“It’s weird,” Elder said. “All my buddies played soccer when they were 4 years old. My dad was a football coach. He knew nothing about soccer. I grew up playing football and basketball.”

The Elder family moved from Gahanna to Worthington when Elder was 10, and that’s when he switched sports. He was good enough right away to make the top team for his age group, but not good enough that the kids didn’t make fun of him with a mean nickname that won’t be repeated here.

“That didn’t fly with me,” Elder said. “When I was 12, I stared getting better.”

Elder played for two state championship teams at Worthington Christian. Now he’s one of the best young players in the Horizon League. He scored nine goals as a freshman, was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and earned first team all-league honors.

This year, Elder has four goals in eight games, ranking fifth in the league. Two straight 2-0 wins over Valparaiso and IUPUI have given the Raiders (3-4-1, 1-0 Horizon) some momentum. They travel to unbeaten Milwaukee (8-0-1, 1-0) for an 8 p.m. game Saturday.

“We definitely would like to end their streak,” Elder said. “That would put us in a good place.”

Men’s basketball: The preseason hype machine can be a good thing and bad thing. USA Today mentioned the Raiders last week as one of five mid-major teams with bracket-busting potential. Coach Billy Donlon likes the attention in that it opens everyone’s eyes to what a special place Wright State is.

The downside, Donlon said, is “as a coach, when it comes to winning and losing, I would prefer not to have the publicity. I know what it does to young people. We have to do a great job as a coaching staff to make sure we have both feet on the ground.”

Women’s soccer: Senior goalkeeper Brooke McCurdy broke Wright State’s career record for saves on Saturday in a 1-0 victory over Youngstown State at Alumni Field. She had five saves and now has 345 in her career.

That’s the ninth-best mark in Horizon League history. At her current pace of six saves per game, McCurdy could rise as high as fourth by season’s end.

McCurdy was also named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday. The Raiders (3-4-3, 1-0 Horizon) host Oakland at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Volleyball: As reported last week, the WSU volleyball team “drafted” 10-year-old Leah Van Beveren, of Beavercreek, onto the team on Tuesday as part of the Team Impact program. Leah was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma when she was 8 weeks old and has overcome six months of chemotherapy, 20-plus surgeries and various treatments.

Leah’s mom Angela said Leah has played volleyball for several years now, loves the sport and is looking forward to a continued relationship with the Raiders.

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