November 2, 2010

Eagles Land Five on All-Conference Teams

Sparks earns third All-Big Sky nod of her storied career

Five members of the Eastern Washington University soccer team were recognized by the conference coaches as All-Big Sky selections for 2010. Seniors Brittany Sparks and Lyndsey Martin earned All-Big Sky second team honors, while juniors Whitney Brannan and Dashia Huff, and sophomore Lauren Jacobsen received honorable mention accolades.

This is the third-consecutive year Sparks has been honored by the conference, as she was a first-team selection in 2009 and earned second-team honors in 2008. The senior forward from Kennewick, Wash., scored three goals in 2010, and led the team in the assists category with four. She will leave Eastern Washington as the all-time leading scorer in school history with 17 career goals and 41 career points. She is tied for the career-assists record (7), as well as the record for games played. Sparks appeared in 72 games during her tenure, earning a spot in the starting lineup in 60 of those 72 contests.

She is also the single-season school record holder for goals (11), points (22) and game winners (3), all of which she achieved during her stellar junior campaign in 2009.

"Brittany has had such an impact on Eastern Washington and the women's soccer program," expressed EWU head coach George Hageage. "Obviously, this year, she didn't score as many goals as last year, but she really became more of a complete player. Last year, she hardly had any assists, and this year she was our assist leader. So, it is great to see a player evolve like that."

In addition to Sparks, senior Lyndsey Martin was named to the All-Big Sky second team for her superior defensive efforts during the 2010 season. Martin was the anchor of Eastern's back line throughout the year, playing and starting in all 17 games. This is the second conference honor of her career, as Martin was also recognized in 2008 on the honorable-mention squad.

"Like Brittany, Lyndsey has really progressed as a player," said Hageage. "She has continued to get better and better every year, which is really rewarding to see as a coach. Number one, we want the kids to get a good education, but we also want to make sure they are improving as they go along. Lyndsey is a great example of that. She was truly one of our most consistent players this entire season."

For the second-straight year, junior Whitney Brannan and sophomore Lauren Jacobsen earned a nod from the conference coaches, as both players were honorable mention selections in 2009 and 2010. Brannan was the leading scorer for Eastern this season with eight goals. She also tallied three assists, all of which came during Big Sky play. Brannan moved up to second on Eastern's all-time career goals and points list, as she now has 14 tallies and 35 points total in her career.

"Whitney played a key role for us this year, and we will expect her to do the same next season." said Hageage. "She led the team in scoring this year, and there will be pressure on her to do the same in 2011. We actually would like to see her score more goals next year, especially during the conference season."

Jacobsen played and started all 17 games for the Eagles in 2010, and finished the year with 14 shots out of the midfield.

"We really look to Lauren to organize our midfield," said Hageage. "I thought she did a great job of that this season, especially when we hit Big Sky season. She has made great contributions in her first two years with this program."

The fifth member of the EWU women's soccer team to be recognized by the Big Sky was junior Dashia Huff, who transferred in 2010 from Walla Walla Community College. Huff wasted little time in establishing herself as a valuable member of Eastern's defensive unit, as she played and started all 17 games.

"Dashia has been a great addition to our team," commended Hageage. "She joined our program this season and fit in in the back right away. She basically played every minute of every game, which gave her great experience for next year. We expected Dashia to take over the leadership role that Lyndsey had, and I think, without question, she is capable of doing that."

Danielle Birdsall of Northern Colorado was selected as the Big Sky Offensive Most Valuable Player after collecting nine total points (3 goals, 3 assists) during the 2010 Big Sky season. Northern Arizona's Kristi Andreasson earned Defensive MVP honors, while her teammate, Chelsea Bednarz was named Newcomer of the Year.

After narrowly escaping Cheney with a 2-1 overtime victory, NAU clinched the Big Sky regular-season title, and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Portland State earned the second seed in the tournament, while Sacramento State and Northern Colorado finished third and fourth, respectively. The Lumberjacks will host the 2010 tourney Friday, Nov. 5 – Sunday, Nov. 7. The Eagles finished the 2010 Big Sky race in seventh place with a 2-5-0 record. 

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