Still Searching for First Big Sky Win, Eagles Hit the Road to Face Bengals and Wildcats

After three-straight 1-0 losses, Eastern anxious for a breakthrough


The story has been the same in each of its first three Big Sky Conference games. In three-straight outings, the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team has conceded one goal late in the second half, and has not been able to find the equalizer, thus resulting in a disheartening 1-0 loss for the red and white.

Eastern will look to put an end to that unfortunate pattern this weekend when it travels to Idaho State and Weber State, both of which are teams EWU beat in the 2010 campaign. Currently, the Bengals are tied with Eastern at the bottom of the Big Sky standings with an 0-3 league record. The Wildcats, on the other hand, sit atop the conference standings with a 2-0-1 mark. 

"We have to come in with the same energy and confidence we've displayed in our last couple games," said Hageage. "If we do that, we have a chance to win every Big Sky game from here on out. We've played three league games and have only given up three goals ... sooner or later, something has got to give."

The Eagles will play ISU on Thursday (Oct. 13) at 3 p.m. in Pocatello, Idaho, before heading to Ogden, Utah an early-morning match against the Wildcats on Saturday (Oct. 15). Kickoff is slated for 8:30 a.m. pacific time. 

Despite its 0-3 record to open the Big Sky season, Eastern should feel pretty good about its chances this weekend, as the Bengals and Wildcats represent the only two teams EWU beat during the 2010 season. Yes, the Eagles are a completely different team this year, as are ISU and WSU, but that little vote of confidence certainly can't hurt.

After winning its first three games of the 2011 season, Idaho State has since lost nine of the last 10, which includes a 1-4 decision to Idaho and 0-2 loss to Boise State, which are two teams Eastern also lost to this season, but by a narrower one-goal margin. 

The Bengals fell to Weber State 1-0 in to open its Big Sky season, and then dropped back-to-back games on the road against Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado.

Idaho State has had little trouble scoring this season, as it ranks second in the Big Sky in goals per game (1.31). But the Bengals have given up the second-most goals of any team in the league, averaging 2.54 goals allowed per game. ­ 

In last season's meeting with ISU, the Eagles scored a goal in the 23rd minute, and again in the 86th, to capture their first and only shutout of the year. The last time the teams met at Davis Field in Pocatello, they battled to a 1-1 draw. 

Contrary to the flow of ISU's season, Weber State has seen most of its success in the last three weeks. The Wildcats lost six of their first seven games of the 2011 campaign, but then won three of the next five. In its most recent outing , WSU earned a 1-1 tie against defending Big Sky regular-season champion Northern Arizona. 

The Wildcats currently rank last in the Big Sky in goals per game, averaging 0.69 per outing. But despite its lack of offensive production, Weber State has made up for it on the other end of the field, as it leads the conference in goals allowed.

The Wildcats returned 10 of 11 starters from last year's squad that finished tied for fifth in the league standings with a 2-4-1 record. In the 2010 meeting with WSU, Eastern prevailed by a score of 2-1 in Cheney. The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, but EWU's senior midfielder Melanie Kitsman converted on free kick from 25 yards outside the box to give Eastern the victory.

This season, Eastern and WSU have already played three of the same opponents in Gonzaga, Air Force and Wyoming. Both teams recorded 0-3 records against those shared opponents. ­

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