Injury strikes Eastern squad once again, as Eagles pay tribute to senior class
In its last home match of the regular season on Friday (Oct. 12), the Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team honored its six seniors. But the excitement from Senior Day was not enough to carry the Eagles past defending Big Sky tournament champion Montana, as it dealt the Eags a 4-0 loss at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center Soccer Field in Cheney, Wash.
The first goal of the match came in the first five minutes of play, from Montana’s senior forward Erin Craig. The Grizzlies stormed Eastern’s goal box and Craig let off a shot that was deflected by senior goalkeeper Jamie Walker. Craig regained possession of the loose ball and tapped it into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Soon after the goal, Eastern’s Brianna Brannan went down with an injury. She got back up and continued playing, but was soon forced to exit the match and did not return. It was later reported by head coach George Hageage that Brannan suffered a broken leg. A strong force on defense, Brannan has started in all of Eastern’s contests in 2012 and contributed a total 1,320 minutes this season.
Eastern was forced to shuffle players around to help fill the void, but could not regain composer. At the 18-minute mark, Montana was awarded a corner kick that was taken by Craig. She sent a perfectly placed ball into the box that teammate Tyler Adair headed into the goal – her first of the season.
“You cannot come out and not compete in the first 20 minutes and let the other team set the tone,” said Hageage. “And that is what we did, which is definitely something we should not be doing and it is not what Eagle soccer is all about. The team is disappointed and I am disappointed.”
Two minutes into the second half, Craig struck again. This time, she took a run on goal and maintained possession in a box flooded with Eastern defenders. After dribbling around the defense, Craig sent a well placed shot to the back of the net, putting the Griz up 3-0. It was Craig’s sixth goal of the season.
The final goal of the game was notched at the 78-minute mark by sophomore midfielder Allie Simon. Montana’s Mackenzie Akins sent a through ball to Simon 10 yards from the goal line. Simon controlled the ball and netted it to win the match, 4-0.
The Grizzlies out-shot Eastern 19-10, but the two teams were tied in corner kicks and fouls with five apiece. Walker secured eight saves in 90 minutes between the pipes, compared to the five corralled by Montana.
Eastern’s Shayla Weiler led the team with two shots on goal in just 13 minutes of play. However, Craig lit up the box score with an impressive six shots that were all on frame.
“We will try to regroup from this,” said Hageage. “We have two games on the road and we need to win those two. But the whole effort was not what we were hoping for.”
The Eagles will play their second to last regular-season conference game against Northern Arizona on Friday (Oct. 19) at Lumberjack Stadium in Flagstaff, Ariz. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. Two days later, they will close out the season against Southern Utah at Thunderbird Soccer Field in Cedar City, Utah, at 11 a.m.