Eagles Continue Three-Game Home Stand this Saturday with Gonzaga

Eastern looking to avenge overtime loss to Bulldogs from a season ago

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The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team is still in pursuit of its first win of the 2011 season. Eastern's next opportunity will be Saturday (Sept. 10) when it hosts familiar rival Gonzaga at 1 p.m. at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center Soccer Field in Cheney, Wash.

The Eagles (0-5-0) are particularly eager for this matchup, considering the result of the last meeting between the two teams. In the 2010 season, Eastern suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Bulldogs in Spokane, when GU's Cassie Geerdts was able to find the back of the net for the golden goal in the 99th minute.

Eastern and Gonzaga have met 16 times in history, and four of those meetings have required extra periods. GU holds a 12-3-1 edge in the all-time series, which oddly includes an undefeated 7-0-1 record for the Bulldogs when playing in Cheney. The last time EWU beat Gonzaga was a 2-1 victory in Spokane during the 2002 season.

Gonzaga has earned a 3-2-0 record thus far in the 2011 season. After falling to Loyola and then-No. 24 Illinois to open the year, the Zags have won three-consecutive matches against schools that also appear on Eastern's 2011 slate. Gonzaga beat Air Force, 2-1, Boise State, 1-0, and in its most recent match, took down Big Sky member Weber State, 1-0.

Eastern will not see Weber State until the conference season, but the Eagles did play both Air Force and Boise State earlier this year. Eastern lost at BSU, 2-1, and then fell to the Falcons in Boise, 3-2. The Eagles were ahead in both of those matches, but a few second-half mistakes ended up costing the Eags in the end, which remains a big area of concern for head coach George Hageage.

"We are getting some quality play, but it's the same old story in the second half," said Hageage. "We give up goals and made mistakes that shouldn't have been made"

"The problem is, when push comes to shove, we don't have that mentality yet to fight through adversity," added Hageage. "We give up a goal and there is no response from the team. Nobody saying 'Heck no, this isn't happening again.' We need that drive, motivation and leadership from our players."

Eagle Soccer News & Notes

Brannan in the Books - In tallying her eighth-career assist in Eastern's 4-1 loss to Florida Gulf Coast on Aug. 18, 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 three goals, three points, 31 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.

Underclassmen Impact - Although as a team, the Eagles have had to battle a few of the obvious challenges that come in a "rebuilding" year, Eastern has had many positive contributions from its young members thus far in 2011. Currently, Eastern's leading goal scorer is freshman Cassie Black (Battle Ground, Wash.). Black has notched three goals on the year to rank third in the Big Sky Conference. Freshman Jessica Wallace (Bellingham, Wash.), has tallied two of Eastern's six assists this season, while sophomore Siara Byers (Bremerton, Wash.) has earned three points with one goal and one assist. Seven of the underclassmen have started at least three games this season, while a total of 10 have played at least 45 minutes.

Black Delivers in Boise - Freshman Cassie Black from Battle Ground, Wash., scored all three Eagle goals at the 2011 Bronco Invite. She had a textbook header goal against Boise State (Aug. 25), and notched two more against Air Force (Aug. 27), both of which came in the first 15 minutes of the contest. Black is now among the top three scorers in the Big Sky Conference, averaging 0.60 goals per game. She has played a total of 237 minutes thus far in her rookie season.

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.

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 players. Eastern returned only four 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 six juniors on the team for a total of just 10 upperclassmen. The sophomore and freshmen class accounts for 17 of the 27 total members. Head coach George Hageage had this to say about his young 2011 roster: "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."

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