The 2019 season is turning into a breakout campaign for Portland Thorns FC defender Elizabeth Ball, whose performance at right and center back over the last three months has helped offset the losses the team experienced during the World Cup. After playing 102 minutes during her rookie year, the Penn State alumna is up to 741 over this season’s first 14 games, with the 23-year-old having already made nine starts.
After Portland’s Tuesday training session at Providence Park, ThornsFC.com caught up with the Richmond native to talk about her favorite position on the field, how she’d rate her season’s performance, as well as something far more important.
ThornsFC.com: Can you give us an update on Rhett, please?
(Author’s note: Rhett is Ball’s seven-month-old Brittany Spaniel.)
Ball: He’s actually doing great.
We hit a little turning point a couple of weeks ago. Now he’s super focused and all good. He can heel walking off leash, and walking on-leash he’s amazing. He still doesn’t like the ocean – took him to the beach the other day; doesn’t love that, yet – but he’s like, “we’re working on it.”
Follow-up: What was his “turning point?”
Ball: I don’t know. One day, I came home, and he was suddenly like, “I’m going to try and be good today.” I was like, “OK! Cool! This is going to be great!”
I had to take him to this 30-day, overnight-camp . thing, and he learned a lot there, but the two weeks after that, I was like, “Did he not learn a thing?” Then just the other day, he was like, “OK, I'm ready to be good!”
ThornsFC.com: Fullback or center back? And why?
Ball: Tough question. Both are great.
Center back, I’m more comfortable with just because that’s what I played in college, but it’s nice to get into the attack, get some crosses in, go up the line, things like that.
But, I’d say center back.
ThornsFC.com: On a scale of 1 to 10, you judging yourself, how do you rate your performance this season?
Ball: Scale of 1 to 10? That’s hard.
I think I’m just getting better every day. Honestly, I think every day I learn something new, and every game, I can take something new from it. I think I’m getting better. I don’t see the ceiling yet. It’s good. I think every day, I’m just getting better.
ThornsFC.com: We’re going to take that as a 9.9.