Eagles finish campaign among Big Sky's best for fourth time in eight years
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team had been selected last in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches poll, but proceeded to then come out and have one of the best league seasons in school history, finishing in second place with a 4-2-1 Big Sky mark.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the season finally came to an end on Friday afternoon (Nov. 6) in a 2-1 loss to Idaho State in a Big Sky semifinal game played in Portland, Ore.
The appearance in the league semifinals was the fifth in school history and fourth in the past eight years. It also marked EWU's return to the event after an uncharacteristic dry spell (first time since 2005).
In today's contest, despite the Bengals taking a commanding 2-0 lead into the final 10 minutes of the contest, the Eagles battled back with Brittney Doran converting a penalty-kick opportunity at 82:25 to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
"After they scored their second goal, we switched to three up top," head coach George Hageage said. "On the turf, once we realized that we needed to not play pretty so much and just dig it out, we started getting some opportunities, chances near the end. We got them into a little bit of panic mode, but credit goes to Idaho State; they played really well in today's game.
"It felt good to come in second place this year, but we didn't accomplish one of our goals, which was to win the Big Sky Tournament. But we had four really good seniors this year (Doran, Chelsey Hannesson, Mandy Cheney and Morgan O'Friel), and it was a shame we went out this way."
Down the stretch, the Eagles furiously fought to get the tying goal, but it would not come to fruition. Hannesson had a shot at 87:02 blocked by the ISU defense, then a shot at 87:56 that went wide right. Doran had the final shot of the game for either team saved at 89:02.
After the teams entered the locker rooms tied 0-0, Idaho State secured the first goal of the contest at the 52:20 mark when Jana Davis-Boehler scored when her shot ricocheted off a defender on its way into the net.
The Bengals then put some distance between the teams with another Davis-Boehler tally at 66:55 to give Idaho State its second goal of the afternoon, which would prove to be too much for the Eagles to overcome.
Brittany Sparks proved to be one of EWU's biggest offensive threats today, as she recorded four shots today, three on goal. Sparks finished the season with 11 goals, the most in school history and will enter her senior season with 14 career scores, tied for that mark with Cyeeta Mott (2004-07).
Idaho State moves to the league's championship game with its win, improving to 10-7 with the result, while the Eagles wrapped up their 2009 season with a 7-9-2 overall record. Eastern, however, did finish strong, going 5-3-1 in its last nine games and recording four shutouts in that span.