Eagles create plenty of opportunities, but fall short of first Big Sky win
For the third game in a row, the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team allowed one second-half goal, resulting in another disheartening 1-0 loss on Sunday (Oct. 9) in Cheney, Wash. This time, it was against reigning Big Sky Conference tournament champion Sacramento State.
With the loss, Eastern's record drops to 1-10 overall and 0-3 in the Big Sky action, while the Hornets improved to 6-7 on the season and 2-1 in conference.
In the 63rd minute, Sac State's Jordan Carlberg gained possession of the ball inside Eastern's six-yard box and made a short pass to Jordyn Rolling, who then one-touched it in to the bottom corner of the goal.
The Eagles had numerous opportunities to score during the match, but Sac State's All-Big Sky goalkeeper, Savannah Abercrombie, made save after save to prevent an EWU tally. Eastern took 14 shots with eight of those on frame.
In the second half, freshman Cassie Black had a header off of a corner kick that had goal written all over it, but Abercrombie reached out and knocked the ball away with one hand just before it crossed the goal line. Later in the half, senior Whitney Brannan fired a direct shot to the upper-right corner of the net, but Abercrombie stretched out for another save.
"Sac State is a really good team," said head coach George Hageage. "Last year, we had a really tough time playing on their home field and they returned a lot of players from that championship team. For us to do what we did today was a big step forward. It was one of those days where we matched a team that has a lot more experience than us."
This season, Eastern has been pushed around by more aggressive teams, which is something Hageage attributes to all the youth and inexperience on his 2011 roster. But today, when the Eagles were pushed, they pushed back. EWU also held possession of the ball up front, which was something they had really focused on in practice.
"I think for us, today was about working together," said Hageage. "We did a really good job holding the ball up top. The last couple of games we've had problems doing that, but not today. I was really proud of this effort. It was one of the best efforts of the season and we keep getting better and better."
"The young girls are gaining more confidence and creating opportunities," added Hageage. "They are getting hungry and know they are the future of this program. They need to stand up and take charge."
The Eagles will hit the road for its next two conference games, starting on Thursday (Oct. 13) in Pocatello, Idaho, where they will face Idaho State, which Eastern topped 2-0 in the 2010 meeting.
"I expect us to have the energy we had today the rest of the season," said Hageage. "And if we do that, we will have a chance to win every Big Sky game from here on out. We've played three conference games and have only given up three goals ... something has got to give."