UTEP, Gonzaga Pay Visit to Eastern

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EWU looks to continue home cooking with two more games on campus this week

Two more home games await the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team this week.

First up will be UTEP, as the Miners pay a visit to the Cheney campus for a 4:30 p.m. contest on Thursday (Sept. 3). Then Gonzaga will make the short trip to take on the Eagles at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 6).

The Eagles are 1-1 after tying for the third-highest goal total in school history in a 4-1 win over McNeese State on Saturday (Aug. 29) before falling on Monday (Aug. 31) to a tough opponent on the road in Seattle University, 2-0.

UTEP is 2-1 with wins over New Mexico State and Stephen F. Austin and a tight loss to Texas Tech in a high-scoring 4-3 contest in the Miners' last outing on Sunday (Aug. 30).

The last time Eastern faced the Miners was on Sept. 10, 2004, when UTEP pulled out a 1-0 win at the UC Riverside Highlander Classic.

The Eagles, however, beat UTEP 3-2 in El Paso on Sept. 17, 2000, while the Miners prevailed in their only trip to Cheney on Sept. 13, 1998, by a 3-1 score.

Gonzaga is 2-0 and averaging three goals a game after dispatching Montana 3-0 and McNeese State 3-1. The Bulldogs will play host to Washington State on Thursday prior to facing the Eagles.

On Sept. 28 of last year EWU and Gonzaga fought to double overtime before Gonzaga pulled out a 2-1 victory.

Eastern will be looking for its first win over Gonzaga since defeating the Bulldogs 2-1 on Oct. 4, 2002.

However, even though EWU has lost six straight to Gonzaga, the Eagles have taken the Bulldogs right to the brink twice in the last four meetings, falling in double overtime each time (the other occurance a 3-2 Gonzaga win on Oct. 4, 2005).


Sparks Named Big Sky Offensive POW            

Brittany Sparks was rewarded for an outstanding performance in the team's 4-1 win over McNeese State on Saturday (Aug. 29) with Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades.

She scored two of Eastern's four goals, tying a school record for goals in a game.

She also helped the team to a goal total that has only been surpassed twice in EWU history, once in a 5-0 win over Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007, and once in a 6-0 victory over NAIA member Carroll College on Oct. 11, 1997.

In fact, Sparks scored in three straight contests, as she tickled the twine in each of the last two games of the 2008 campaign.

Her initial goal on Saturday came in the 25th minute and earned Eastern a 2-0 advantage. She took a pass from Whitney Brannan and tucked the ball just inside the left post.

Then, in the 84th minute, she scored Eastern's fourth goal of the contest when she received a pass from Chelsey Hannesson and beat the goalkeeper from seven yards out.

Sparks is the first Eagle to earn Offensive POW honors since Abby Jensen was awarded the accolades on Oct. 1, 2007.


Offensive Onslaught                                 

The Eagles poured in four goals, tied for its third-highest scoring output in history, in defeating McNeese State 4-1 on Saturday afternoon (Aug. 29).

Brittany Sparks tickled the twine twice, scoring in the 25th and 84th minutes. The junior had entered 2009 with three career goals. In fact, she has now scored in three straight contests, having tallied scores in each of the final two games of the 2008 season.

The two goals scored by Sparks tied the school record.

The only time EWU had ever scored more than four goals in a game came on Aug. 31, 2007, in a 5-0 win over Lamar and on Oct. 11, 1997 in a 6-0 victory over NAIA member Carroll College. The most Eastern had scored in a game during the 2008 campaign was three in a 3-2 overtime win over Montana in the season finale on Oct. 31.

The Eagles got on the scoreboard first when Mandy Cheney was taken down in the box, and Kirsten Fausko slotted home the ensuing penalty kick, the sophomore's first career goal. Sparks' initial goal of the day came when she took a pass from Whitney Brannan and tucked the ball just inside the left post.

Brannan had a great chance herself in the 28th minute when she pounced on a saved shot from Fausko that was spilled by the goalkeeper and nailed a shot just off the right post. Katy Sloyer then had a shot in the 30th minute that nicked off the crossbar.

Then, McNeese State cut its deficit in half with a perfectly-placed and timed pass from Lauren LaLanne hit Sarah Lowdon, who was one-on-one with the goalkeeper 25 yards from goal before converting the score.

Brannan then did get on the scoreboard when she also hit a ball that nicked the crossbar, this time the underside, before hitting pay dirt. That goal came as a result of a scramble in the box following an Eastern shot attempt and was scored in the 51st minute.

Morgan O'Friel had a pair of quality, hard shot attempts in the 71st and 77th minutes that she was unfortunate to not see hit the back of the net.

Sparks scored her second goal, and Eastern's fourth, in the 84th minute when she took a pass from Chelsey Hannesson and beat the goalkeeper from seven yards out.


Big Sky Preseason Poll                            

In the Big Sky Coaches Preseason Poll, Weber State was selected first and were followed, in order, by Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, Montana, Portland State, Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Eastern Washington.




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