Eastern wins first match of the season behind the shutout performance of goalkeeper Jamie Walker
Talk about teamwork.
Eastern Washington University all-time leading scorer Brittany Sparks and the player on her heels -- Whitney Brannan -- assisted on each other's goal as the Eagles won their first match of the season with a 2-0 victory over Idaho State Friday (Oct. 15) at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center.
Jamie Walker recorded the shutout and had seven saves as Eastern improved to 1-11-1 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky Conference with the victory. It was EWU's first home appearance since Sept. 26, and the Eagles host Weber State Sunday (Oct. 17) at noon.
"It's great for them to get a win," said Eastern head coach George Hageage. "I know they're excited about it. The forwards stepped up today."
Idaho State fell to 5-8-2 on the season and 0-2-1 in the league, while Weber State is now 2-12-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the league after defeating Montana 4-0 on Friday.
Brannan scored her eighth goal of the season in the 23rd minute off a feed from Sparks. Brannan returned the favor late in the match in the 86th minute on a cross that Sparks headed into the goal. It was first assist of the season for Brannan and the second goal of the year for Sparks, who now has a team-leading four assists in 2010.
"To see a couple of transition goals, especially the last one, was great," said Eastern head coach George Hageage. "For Brittany to score and for Whitney to get the assist makes it a wonderful set up."
"We knew we could transition," he continued. "And when we did we knew they had to be balls that were dumped in to the corners or dumped short in front of the box to draw (their goalkeeper) out. That's really what we tried to do."
Walker, a sophomore from Graham, Wash., registered her first victory as an Eastern goalkeeper. She was aided by three Idaho State shots that bounced off the post. Eastern was out-shot 22-11, and the lack of shots has concerned Hageage much of the season.
"I think we worked really hard but we still need to figure out the midfield because for some reason when we get the ball in there we don't distribute very well," he explained.
Sparks, a senior from Kennewick, Wash., now has 16 career goals and 39 total points in her career -- both school records. Brannan, who is just three goals from Sparks' single season record of 11 set last year, now has 14 goals in her career to tie her with Cyeeta Mott for second behind Sparks.
A junior, Brannan is also from Kennewick, Wash., and graduated from Kamiakin High School in 2008. Sparks is a 2006 graduate of Kamiakin.