Eastern squad rallies together to fill void in midfield, but unable to stop Aggies
The Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team endured another loss, this time at the hands of Utah State. The two teams battled to a 1-0 finish on Friday (Sept. 7) at the Viking Classic at Hillsboro Stadium in Hillsboro, Ore. Strong second-half efforts made by the Eagles were not enough to overcome a late goal secured by the Aggies.
Utah State, a team that earned a 2011 NCAA national tournament berth, was only able to make good on one of its 17 shooting attempts. The game-winning goal came in the 84th minute of the match off a breakaway from Jade Tarver – her second of the season.
“Utah State is a really good team. They were able to use an unforced error on our part to breakaway and score the goal,” said head coach George Hageage.
The first half of the game found the Eagles on the defense, fending off Utah State’s nine shots compared to the two shots recorded for the red and white.
Without the usual leadership of senior midfielder Lauren Jacobsen controlling the center of the field, the Eagles struggled to adjust to the change throughout the first half.
“We came out on our heels and did not play to our usual standard,” said Hageage. “When you lose someone to an injury like Lauren, trying to fill that position is a little tough. We had trouble connecting passes through the midfield and made a lot of mistakes due to the loss of one player.”
After a rough start, junior midfielders Torri Sitzman and Katy Allen were noted by Hageage as being key players who stepped up in the midfield to fill that void, controlling play in favor of the Eagles. And in the second half, the Eags matched the Aggies in shot attempts, finding seven opportunities to USU’s eight.
“We had good opportunities and were connecting passes,” said Hageage. “We were able to force Utah State to do things they did not want to do and possessed the ball more.”
On Eastern’s offensive line, standout players included senior Kasey McNeill, who contributed one shot on goal, and sophomore Cassie Black, who took three shots and put two on frame.
Eastern’s sophomore goalkeeper Nathalie Schwery recorded a career-high 10 saves in 90 minutes between the pipes.
“Nathalie did a really good job of keeping us in the game,” said Hageage. “Our defense also played really well, including Brianna [Brannan] and Katie [Cashman]. Going forward, we are encouraged by what we saw today. We are almost there, but we need to score goals. Our focus will be on shuffling people up top to find something that works.”
The Eagles continue tournament play on Sunday (Sept. 9) against Boise State. Kickoff is set for 10:30 a.m. at Hillsboro Stadium in Hillsboro, Ore.