Eagles Continue to Develop Young Team with Pair of Games this Week in Boise
Eastern opens weekend tourney against former Big Sky member Boise State, followed by first-ever matchup with Air Force
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Seeking its first win of the 2011 campaign, the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team will head to Boise, Idaho, this weekend for the 2011 Bronco Invite. At the tournament, Eastern will face host Boise State on Friday (Aug. 26) at 4 p.m. Pacific time, followed by Air Force on Sunday (Aug. 28) at 1 p.m.
Eastern is coming off a pair of losses against Florida Gulf Coast and Robert Morris at the 5th Annual Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. Despite the end results, the Eagles were not really overmatched in either contest, but just few breakdowns by the young defensive unit led to a winless weekend for the red and white.
"Based on what happened at the tournament in Florida, we want to make some changes in terms of how we defend," said Hageage. ""It's naïve to think we could come right out of the gate and destroy people with a bunch of inexperienced players. But with that said, we are possessing the ball better and not allowing teams as many shots as last year. So, we have made some good adjustments, we just need to hone those last few pieces. We want to push our defense higher up the field, so there's not as much pressure on the back four. That will be our main focus as we prepare for Boise State and Air Force."
Eastern's first opponent on the weekend is also coming off two-consecutive losses to Montana and Oregon. Boise State lost 4-3 in overtime to the Grizzlies before getting shut-out by Oregon, 2-0.
The Broncos returned eight starters and 14 other letterwinners from its 2010 squad that went 8-10-3 overall, and finished fifth in the Western Athletic Conference.
"This should be an interesting weekend, because it sounds like Boise State is a team that is also searching for their identity a little bit," said Hageage. "They are fairly young as well, so I anticipate a pretty good matchup."
EWU and BSU have met 10 times in history, with the Broncos leading the series 9-0-1. The last meeting between the two schools was on Aug. 24, 2008 in Boise, and the Broncos walked away with a 4-0 victory.
Following Friday's contest, Eastern will face Air Force for the first time in program history. The Falcons won both their contests during the opening weekend, but the matchups were against two NCAA Division II schools out of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (CSU-Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines).
Air Force is led by freshman midfielder McKenna Fox, who scored three goals and had one assist over the weekend. She was selected as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.
Live Stats for both games in Boise will be available at http://www.broncosports.com/liveStats/liveStats.dbml?SPSID=48583&SPID=4062&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=9900&LIST_SPORT_ID=W_SOCCER, while fans can watch live video of the EWU versus Boise State game for a small fee at https://www.nmnathletics.com/PremiumVideo.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=9900.
News & Notes
Fausko Honored on All-Tournament Team - Senior Kirsten Fausko was recognized for her strong performance this past weekend at the 5th Annual Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. Fausko, a native of Auburn, Wash., was one of two forwards named to the All-Tournament team, which is selected by a panel of coaches, SID's and media members at the event. Fausko scored her first goal of the season and third of her career in Eastern's narrow 3-1 loss to tournament-champion Robert Morris on Sunday (Aug. 21). She led the Eagles with five shots total on the weekend, three of which were on frame.
Brannan in the Books - In tallying her eighth-career assist last weekend in Eastern's 4-1 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, senior Whitney Brannan became the school's all-time career record holder in assists. Brannan surpassed former Eagles Brittany Sparks, Cyeeta Mott and Beth Russell, who were all tied at seven. The Kennewick, Wash., native is also on pace to break the school's career record for goals, points, shots and game-winning goals. To take sole ownership of these records, Brannan would need four goals, five points, 39 shots and three game winners during the 2011 season. Last year, Brannan scored eight goals on 42 total shots, had one game winner and finished the year with 19 total points.
Eagles are Green Entering 2011 - The Eastern Washington women's soccer team is certainly excited and energetic about the 2011 season, but it may take some time for the Eagles to find their groove, as the roster is full of young, inexperienced players. Eastern returned only five starters from the 2010 squad, and of the seven other returning letterwinners, only five averaged more than 30 minutes per game last season. Eastern added 13 newcomers to its roster this year, including two junior college transfers and 11 freshmen. EWU has four seniors and seven juniors on the team for a total of just 11 upperclassmen. The sophomore and freshmen class accounts for 17 of the 28 total members. Head coach George Hageage had this to say about his young 2011 roster: "We really wanted to focus on setting a better foundation, and get this program back to where we were a few years ago. We definitely lost a lot of players, but with so many new players, and with the returners who were here in the spring and introduced to a new coach and new style of operating, we have an amazing opportunity to really build this team from the ground up."