Last chance in regular season to see first-place Eagles, record-breaking goal scorer Sparks
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team enters the second week of the Big Sky Conference season tied for first place at 2-0 with Sacramento State.
The Eagles will play the Hornets at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 18) in Eastern's final regular-season home game of the season. Prior to then, however, Eastern welcomes Portland State for a 3:30 p.m. contest on Friday (Oct. 16).
Most recently, the Eagles won their first two conference games for the initial time in school history. Eastern took 1-0 victories over Weber State, winning over the Wildcats in Ogden, Utah, for the first time in eight tries, and Idaho State at home.
The victory over Weber State was especially notable because the Eagles were picked last in the Big Sky Coaches Preseason Poll, while the defending regular-season champion Wildcats had been selected first.
Lauren Jacobsen scored the first goal of the freshman's career and Lisa Dimak saved a penalty kick in the 78th minute to secure that win for Eastern.
Against Idaho State, Brittany Sparks extended her school-record single-season goal total to nine. The Eagle defense then held ISU to just one shot on goal.
Dimak proceeded to earn Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week accolades after posting two shutouts, the first two of her career.
Portland State is tied for third place at 1-1 and have compiled a 7-6-1 overall mark. Last weekend, the Vikings beat Northern Colorado at home 3-2 before falling at Northern Arizona 1-0.
The Eagles and Vikings have split their last six meetings with each team going 3-0 at home in that time span.
Sacramento State, like Eastern, is 2-0 in Big Sky play. The Hornets are 7-3-3 overall.
Last weekend, they beat Northern Arizona at home 2-1 before making the long trek to Northern Colorado and coming out with a 1-0 win.
Sacramento State had a notable non-conference win on Oct. 2, knocking off No. 10 California on the road, 1-0.
The Hornets have won three straight versus the Eagles, while Eastern went 3-0-1 against Sacramento State in the four games prior to then.
Quartet of Seniors to be Honored Sunday
Senior Day is already upon us this Sunday (Oct. 18), the earliest in school history. That day four seniors, all four-year letterwinners, will be honored prior to the Sacramento State game: Mandy Cheney, Brittney Doran, Chelsey Hannesson and Morgan O'Friel.
Cheney has contributed significantly to Eastern's successes the past four years. In 2007, she was named the team's Most Improved Player. That year, she scored in a 5-0 win over Lamar to help EWU to its biggest win ever, 5-0.
Doran started her career with All-Big Sky second team accolades in 2005. She was also team Defensive Most Valuable Player in 2007. Doran attained Big Sky All-Academic accolades every year she has been on the team.
Hannesson earned All-Big Sky second team honors in 2008 after receiving honorable mention accolades as a sophomore. She was also named the team's Defensive Most Valuable Player in 2008.
O'Friel has twice earned Big Sky All-Academic accolades, in 2005 and 2007, and received the team's Iron Eagle Award in 2007. She, like Doran, was a member of the 2005 team that advanced to the Big Sky semifinals.
Dimak Named Big Sky Defensive POW
Lisa Dimak was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week after the goalkeeper posted a pair of shutouts to help the Eagles to a 2-0 Big Sky record, its best start ever.
Most notably was a save she had in the 78th minute of a road win over Weber State on Thursday (Oct. 8). That kept the Wildcats out of the net, and the Eagles earned their first of 1-0 victories that day. It also marked Eastern's first win in eight tries over the Wildcats in Ogden, Utah.
Three days after that, she helped blank Idaho State in another 1-0 win. She also helped organize a defensive effort that kept ISU to just one shot on goal that day.
For the week, Dimak faced 38 shots and had 11 saves.
The award is the first for Dimak. The last Eagle to earn Defensive POW accolades was Jessica Blessard, who was named Co-POW on Oct. 29, 2007.
Sparks Breaks Record, Eyes More
Brittany Sparks has already broken the school record for goals in a single season with nine.
Her seventh and eighth scores both came in a dominating 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27.
The record breaker was a memorable score in and of itself. She sped with the ball 40 yards from goal before racing left to right across the box, beating three defenders and the goalkeeper to create open space in front of her and then slotting the ball home.
She has now scored two goals in a game twice this season, having also done so in a 4-1 win over McNeese State on Aug. 29. That feat tied that school record.
After both of those performances, she was named Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, becoming the first Eagle to earn that award since Abby Jensen accomplished the feat on Oct. 1, 2007.
Sparks has 18 points this year as well as three game-winning goals, both of which set school marks, as well.
The junior is now setting her sights on career records. Her 12 goals in her career are second on that list, just two behind the mark currently held by Cyeeta Mott (2004-07).
She has 27 points, which are second on that list, eight behind Mott's record of 35.
This year, Sparks ranks 23rd nationally in goals per game (0.75) and leads the Big Sky in that category. She is also 47th nationally in points per game (1.50) and leads the league in that category, as well.
Let's Score Some Goals
Eastern Washington is one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, as evidenced by its 1.67 goals per game placing the team 90th among NCAA Division I teams and leading the Big Sky Conference in that category.
Twice this year, the team has scored four or more goals in a game. Eastern's 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27 tied that school record (last achieved in a 5-0 win over Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007), while the Eagles had four in a 4-1 defeat of McNeese State on Aug. 29.
The Eagles also lead the Big Sky in points (4.50) per game.
The Eagles have scored 20 goals this year, already surpassing the 16 scores the 2008 team had.
Three times has an Eagle scored two goals in a game this year, as Brittany Sparks accomplished the feat twice (in the McNeese State and South Dakota games) and Whiney Brannan did so once (in a 3-0 defeat of Eastern Oregon on Sept. 9).
The two goals by those players tie the school record, which has now been achieved a total of 13 times.
Records Falling by the Wayside
Just past the half-way point of the 2009 season, the Eagles have already seen major school records broken with more expected to fall in the upcoming weeks.
In fact, a total of nine records have been broken or tied so far this season.
For a single season, the goal-scoring record has fallen (Brittany Sparks has nine), as has the marks for most points (Sparks has 18) and game-winning goals (Sparks has three).
Also, the assists record is close to going down, as a trio of Eagles is one away from Cyeeta Mott's 2007 total of four. Chelsey Hannesson, Morgan O'Friel and Whitney Brannan have three apiece.
Sparks has set the school mark for points with 16, originally set by Mott in 2007. Meanwhile, Brannan is climbing that list, as well, as her 11 tallies place her in a fourth-place tie, just five behind the current mark.
In the career portion of the record book, Sparks is nearing the goal record of 14 (Mott, 2004-07), as she has 12 scores in her career. Sparks is currently second in points (27), as Mott also holds that mark with 35.
O'Friel has five career helpers, which ties for third on that chart, two off the school mark.
Sparks has four game-winning goals in her career, one from Mott's record of five.
In a single game, Sparks has scored two goals twice this year (versus McNeese State and South Dakota) and Brannan has done so once (Eastern Oregon), tying that school mark, which has now been attained 13 times.
For a team, Eastern Washington's 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27 tied that school mark, which was originally set in a 5-0 defeat of Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007.
The Eagles are also currently on a three-game winning streak, as well as a four-game unbeaten streak, both of which tie those school marks.