Late second-half goal gives Wildcats advantage needed to edge out Eagles
In its 2012 Big Sky conference opener, the Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team was dealt a 1-0 loss at the hands of Weber State on Friday (Sept. 21) at EWU Sports and Recreation Center Soccer Field in Cheney, Wash.
Wildcat Mackenzie Harrison scored the game-winning goal with less than 12 minutes left on the game clock. Harrison drove into the box unassisted, cut to her right foot, and blasted the ball into the upper left corner, just out of reach of EWU goalkeeper Nathalie Schwery. The goal was Harrison’s third of the season.
“Weber State is a young talented team,” said head coach George Hageage. “They definitely earned that goal. In the first game of Big Sky action, anything can happen – we knew that. But we have to make sure that this loss does not translate into two losses.”
When the first half ended, Weber State had seven shots compared to Eastern’s five. Schwery kept the Wildcats off the board, collecting five saves in the first 45 minutes, including an acrobatic one right off the bat. Standing just a few feet off the end line, WSU’s Mackenzie Harrison connected on a cross, but Schwery reacted perfectly, and stopped it from crossing the goal line. The teams were even in other stats, each with one corner kick and three fouls each.
“We came out looking decent,” said Hageage. “Cassie [Black] had a couple scoring opportunities, but they man-marked her and had the sweeper behind. That limited her chances to get through-balls, which is her strength. But Nathalie was solid in goal again. The defense also did a good job of limiting Weber State’s opportunities to score, as they have done all year.”
The Eagles came out quick in the second half, with three shots in the first nine minutes. Black sent one just wide at the 49 minute-mark. After the ball was put back in play, teammate Brittney Conway found a shooting opportunity, but also sent it wide. And three minutes later, freshman Caitlin Hepworth recorded her first shot for the Eags, when she ricocheted one off the crossbar.
The Wildcats out-shot the Eagles again in the second half, 7-5. Schwery added another four saves, for a game total of nine in 90 minutes between the pipes.
After the Wildcats notched the lone goal, the red and white fought hard to even the score and did not give up a single throw-in or free-kick to WSU in the last five minutes of play.
“Once there was a sense of urgency, we played to the standard we have been seeing all season,” said Hageage. “But at that point we were already down a goal, and you cannot chase in the Big Sky. It is just too hard. Hopefully we will learn from this and come out with a little more urgency when we play Idaho State.”
The Eagles continue conference play when they host Idaho State on Sunday (Sept. 23) in Cheney, Wash. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.