Eagles drop home opener in heartbreaking fashion
The Eastern Washington University soccer team battled back from a one-goal deficit at halftime to force extra periods, but a golden goal in the 108th minute gave the Redhawks of Seattle University a 2-1 victory over EWU Friday at the Sports and Recreation Center Playing Fields in Cheney, Wash. With the loss, the Eagles fall to 0-2-1 on the season, while Seattle improves to 3-2-0.
It looked as though Eastern would notch the desired golden goal when senior Brittany Sparks had a clean breakaway down the right side of the pitch with just over three minutes remaining in the second overtime period. She sent a cross in toward junior Whitney Brannan, who stood wide open on the goal line, but Seattle managed to get a head on the ball just before it dropped, resulting in a corner kick for EWU.
As quickly as the momentum had shifted in Eastern’s favor, the tides turned in the other direction. Senior Hannah Kreminski’s corner kick was cleared by the Redhawks, and a quick counter attack left Eastern shorthanded on the defensive end. Seattle junior Kassandra Riozzi sent a pass to freshman Ava Ames, who was left open just outside the box. Ames took two controlled touches and fired a shot, which slipped past EWU’s netminder Jamie Walker and fell into the back of the net.
“It’s really unfortunate how the game ended, but I am quite proud by the team’s performance today,” said EWU head coach George Hageage. “To battle a team like Seattle, who is extremely well organized and well coached, as well as we did is really encouraging. Despite the loss, I do think we took a few steps forward today. Our goalkeeping was really impressive and some of our freshman really stepped up. I think if you’re an Eagle fan and you witnessed the talent in those freshmen, you’ve got to be excited for the future of this program.”
Seattle got on the scoreboard first after a cross from SU sophomore Emma Levy floated to the center of the box, where her teammate Carlee Norquist was battling with the EWU defense. An unfortunate deflection off an Eagle forehead resulted in an own goal at the 9:56 mark. Seattle continued to pressure, firing a total 11 shots in the first period, but Eastern managed to keep the visitors from increasing their lead.
Eager to even the score, the Eags opened the second half with immediate pressure. Within the first minute, the home team earned a free kick deep in Redhawk territory. Freshman Erin Bourguinon sent a strong ball from 30 yards out, which managed to soar past the mob of bodies in the box, but a Seattle defender was able to intercept the shot moments before it crossed the plane of the goal.
In the 71st minute, Brannan notched the dramatic equalizer when she blasted a shot from 25 yards out that flew past SU’s goalkeeper Madison Goverde. Freshman Hannah Scott was credited with the assist after she got a touch on a loose ball and found Brannan a few yards back and ready to strike. The junior forward controlled the pass from Scott and sent a laser straight to the back of the net for her second tally of the season and seventh of her career.
The Redhawks had several close opportunities for a game winner late in the second half, but the sharp goalkeeping of Walker kept Eastern in contention. The sophomore from Graham, Wash., ended the game with seven saves in her 65 minutes of play. Senior Lisa Dimak started between the pipes for Eastern, collecting six saves in the first period.
The Eagles will return to action on Sunday when they host UC-Irvine at 12 p.m.