Game against Grizzlies is pivotal to Eastern Washington's postseason hopes in 2009
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team concludes its regular season at 3 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday (Oct. 30) in a game that is pivotal to both teams.
The Eagles enter the contest with a 3-2-1 Big Sky record, 6-8-1 overall, tied for third place in the league standings. Montana is 2-3-1 in league play, 4-12-1 overall. The Grizzlies are currently sixth.
The top four teams in the final standings will advance to the Big Sky Championship, to be hosted by the regular-season champion in a three-day span between Nov. 5-8.
The Eagles hold a slim chance at playing host to the tournament, but would need a win over Montana and some help, specifically Northern Colorado knocking off Northern Arizona and Sacramento State outscoring Portland State.
Regardless of the results of other games this weekend, the Eagles clinch a tournament spot with a win. A tie or loss, however, makes the picture dicey, as Idaho State (3-3 BSC) and Montana are in fifth and sixth places, respectively, fighting to get into the tournament.
If the Eagles tie Montana, EWU would need Idaho State to not win its game with Weber State or, if ISU does win, have Sacramento State not win its game with Portland State.
A loss to Montana means that Weber State needs to beat or tie Idaho State and Portland State outscore Sacramento State. If Sacramento State wins or ties that game, the Eagles would need ISU to tie with WSU in addition to either Portland State or Sacramento State (not Northern Arizona) finishing first.
Currently, Portland State (4-1-1) is in first place, followed by Northern Arizona (4-2). The Eagles are tied with Sacramento State (3-2-1 BSC) for third, and they are followed by ISU and the Grizzlies.
Weber State (2-4 BSC) and Northern Colorado (1-5 BSC) have been eliminated from consideration.
In other Big Sky games, Sacramento State hosts Portland State at 1 p.m. on Friday, while Northern Colorado faces Northern Arizona at 6 Pacific Time that evening. Idaho State plays Weber State at noon PT on Saturday (Oct. 31).
The first tiebreaker used if teams are tied for a spot in the standings is head-to-head results. The second tiebreaker is points earned (three for a win, one for a tie) against the rest of the Big Sky teams, in descending order.
Historically, the Grizzlies lead Eastern Washington in the all-time series 7-4-1, although the Eagles have claimed the last two meetings, including an exciting 3-2 overtime affair a year ago.
Sparks Breaks, Ties Goal-Scoring Records
Brittany Sparks had already broken the school record for goals in a single season with 10 (previous mark of seven was set by Lauryn Koelzer in 2008) before tying the career record with her 11th of 2009 and 14th of her career.
She tied the career mark at Northern Arizona on Sunday (Oct. 25) by chipping the ball over the goalkeeper and then tapping it into the empty net. The score gave EWU a 1-0 lead in a game the Eagles would lose 4-2.
Sparks' seventh and eighth scores of 2009, tying and breaking that record, each 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 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. Each of those feats ties the school record.
After both of those two-goal 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 22 points this year as well as three game-winning goals, both of which also set school marks.
She has 31 career points, which are second on that list, four behind Mott's record of 35.
This year, Sparks ranks 27th nationally in goals per game (0.69) and leads the Big Sky in that category. She is also 63rd nationally in points per game (1.38) and is second in the Big Sky in that category.
Hannesson Named Co-Defensive POW
Senior defender Chelsey Hannesson was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week by the Big Sky Conference after helping the Eagles to a 1-0-1 week and into sole possession of first place in the league standings just past the midway point of the Big Sky campaign.
On Oct. 18, the senior did an outstanding job helping the defensive line hold Sacramento State to just two shots on goal in a 1-0 defeat of the Hornets.
She was also pivotal in holding Portland State to just one tally in 110 minutes of action in a 1-1 double-overtime tie with the Vikings on Oct. 16.
For the weekend, EWU's defense allowed just that one Portland State goal in 200 minutes.
Sharing this week's award with Hannesson was Portland State's Toni Carnovale.
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 Oct. 8. That kept the Wildcats out of the net, and the Eagles earned their first of consecutive 1-0 victories. 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. The Bengals had just one shot on goal that day.
For the week, Dimak faced 38 shots and tallied 11 saves.
The last Eagle prior to Dimak to earn Defensive POW accolades was Jessica Blessard, who was named Co-POW on Oct. 29, 2007.
Let's Score Some Goals
Eastern Washington is one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, as evidenced by its 1.50 goals per game placing the team second in the Big Sky Conference and 114th among NCAA Division I teams.
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 have scored 24 goals this year, four shy of the school record of 28 that was set in 2007.
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 been achieved a total of 13 times.
However, the Eagles have had some outstanding defensive performances since the commencement of Big Sky play, posting three shutouts.
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 10 records have been broken or tied so far this season.
Most recently, Brittany Sparks tied the school record for career goals. The junior now has 14 and shares that mark with Cyeeta Mott (2004-07).
For a single season, the goal-scoring record has fallen (Sparks has 11), as has the marks for most points (Sparks has 22) and game-winning goals (Sparks has three).
Meanwhile, Brannan is climbing the single-season points list, as her 13 tallies place her fourth, just nine behind Sparks' record.
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.
In other career categories, Sparks is currently second in points (31), 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.
Lisa Dimak is also only two shutouts away from that single-season record. She is currently tied for third with five.
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 also set a school record for longest unbeaten streak, six (4-0-2), which was recorded from Sept. 25-Oct. 18. Eastern also won three straight (Sept. 27-Oct. 11) to tie that mark.
Quartet of Seniors Honored
Prior to the earliest Senior Day in school history, Oct. 18, four seniors, all four-year letterwinners, were honored: 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.
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.
Eagles Raise Money to Fight Breast Cancer
On Oct. 18, the soccer team presented a check for more than $600 to secretary Reggie Brulotte and fundraising chair Kelly Stanicar of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. The team sold pink cookies over the previous couple weeks to help raise money to fight breast cancer.
"We are really grateful for Mostly Muffins and their generosity in donating the cookies, and we feel this is a great opportunity for our program to give back to our community," assistant coach Tamara Hageage said. "Breast cancer has touched virtually everyone in our program, and we are all very excited to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation."