October 17, 2011

Eastern Sweeps Big Sky Player of the Week Honors

Brannan and Walker rewarded for outstanding efforts on the road

The celebration continues for the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team.

After earning its first win of the Big Sky Conference season against top-seeded Weber State, the Eagles were honored with a sweep of the Big Sky Player of the Week awards, announced Monday (Oct. 17) by the league office. Senior forward Whitney Brannan was selected as the Offensive POW, while junior goalkeeper Jamie Walker earned Co-Defensive Player of the Week accolades.

This is the first POW award of the season for Brannan, and the second for Walker, who was also honored on Sept. 26.

Brannan led the Eagles to a 1-1 record on the road last weekend, including a 3-0 shutout of Weber State, which was EWU's first win against a Division I school this season.  Brannan tallied two goals on 11 total shots, and contributed two assists for a total of six points in the two games combined.

"We are really happy with the way the weekend went for Whitney," said EWU head coach George Hageage. "She has been working hard all season, and has been getting a lot of shots, but unfortunately she couldn't put the ball in the back of the net like she's used to. But this weekend was great. She opened it up with a goal against Idaho State, and then had two assists on our first two goals against Weber. She just blew by people and sent in beautiful crosses, and then later was rewarded with her own goal. We're really happy with where she is, and obviously hope she continues performing at this high level."

Already the all-time career leader in assists at Eastern, Brannan set three more school records over the weekend. She tied former Eagle Brittany Sparks for the all-time scoring record, now with 17 career tallies. She took sole ownership of the career record for points with 45, as well as the all-time shots record with 140. She has 11 assists in her tenure, which is also a school record. Four of those have come this season.

Against Idaho State on Thursday, Brannan fired a game-high eight shots, which actually tied her own school record for shots in a single game. She converted on one of those in the seventh minute of the contest, when she recovered a rebound off her own shot and then slipped it in past the goalie. Two more of Brannan's eight shots were on frame.

On Saturday, EWU topped Weber State on its home field in Ogden for just the second time in program history. Brannan had a hand in all three of the goals scored in that game. She assisted on the first two and then scored the third and final EWU tally. The first two goals came after Brannan delivered perfect crosses in from the corner, which her teammates were able to convert from inside the six-yard box. Her goal came in the second half, as she earned a breakaway down the center of the pitch and then slotted one home to the bottom left corner.

Walker also played an invaluable part in helping Eastern capture the big win at Weber State. The Graham, Wash., native tallied 19 total saves over the weekend, but had a career-high 12 against the Wildcats to earn her second-career shutout.

Weber State fired 25 shots in the game, but was not able to convert a single one thanks to the sharp defense of Walker. She had four saves in the first half and eight in the second.

Against the Bengals, Walker picked up seven total saves on 14 shots. She finished the weekend with an impressive .905 save percentage.

Walker is the top-ranked keeper in the conference in that statistic, with a season save percentage of .818. She also ranks sixth in saves, averaging 4.50 per game, and fifth in goals against average at 1.26.

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