Big save by Walker keeps Eastern alive in golden goal period
The Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team battled defending regular-season champion Northern Colorado to a 0-0 tie on Sunday (Oct. 7) at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center Soccer Field in Cheney, Wash.
After 90 strong minutes without either team securing a goal, the Bears led the Eagles in shots, 17-10. UNC also had eight corner kicks compared to Eastern’s two, but the red and white fought hard to keep them out of the net, while also creating some quality possessions of its own.
“I thought we hung with them in the first half,” said head coach George Hageage. “Obviously, they were one of the teams picked to win our conference this year, and they have been doing really well. I thought we did pretty well in the first half holding the ball, but then we started to fade away and get a little bit tired. I am proud of the way we fought though.”
In the first overtime period, a foul was called on Eastern in its own goal box, giving up a penalty kick to UNC. Junior midfielder JJ Wykstra took the kick for the Bears, but senior goalkeeper Jamie Walker came up big with the save.
“That is a gutsy call, but in my mind it probably was the right call,” said Hageage about the referee’s decision to award the penalty. “We were just fortunate enough that Jaime knew what was going on and read it really well. It was one of those deals where anything can happen in the Big Sky. And after the PK, I thought we played with a little bit more energy.”
When the match moved into its second overtime period, the Eagles pushed the ball and out-shot the Bears 3-1, but did not convert any shots. The game concluded at 0-0, with UNC totaling 21 shot attempts and the Eagles tallying 14.
Walker recorded a season-high 11 saves in 110 minutes between the pipes and earned her first shutout of the season.
“We have two really great keepers," said Hageage. "But I thought we had some good opportunities that we did not take care of. We had some plays that we started to develop, but we rushed it and did not play the proper person. Those are all things we can work on. But for us, a weekend when you get a win and a tie is good – especially when the tie is against one of the top teams.”
The Eagles play their final home match of the season on Friday (Oct. 12) against Montana at 3:30 p.m. in Cheney, Wash. As a part of Senior Day, Eastern will honor its seniors before the match.