Eagles Start Season on the Road

Aug. 28, 2007

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The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team opens its 2007 season with a pair of games in the Northern Arizona University Mountain Classic on Friday, Aug. 31 (4 p.m.) and Sunday, Sept. 2 (11 a.m.).

Eastern starts its season playing a team who is beginning its program, Lamar University. The Cardinals will compete in the Southland Conference in their inaugural season as a program.

Lamar has already played two exhibition games at home against Navarro Junior College and Texas Southern. The Cardinals lost, 1-0 in double overtime to Navarro, and defeated TSU 6-2.

"I actually think the game is going to be pretty good," said Eagle head coach George Hageage. "Fitness wise we are good, and that is huge going into Northern Arizona because the altitude plays a huge part."

"We will go into Friday's game mentally ready to play. I know the fitness will carry us through, and we will worry about the rest when we get up there."

Two days later, the Eagles play another team for the first time, Temple University, that plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Owls went 4-14-0 last year, 1-8-0 in conference play.

"We need to be real simple and continue to attack and crash the goal, and I think this year we are doing that a little bit more," continued Hageage. "If we can get the simple part down and spread it around to the outside midfielders, then we will be good."


Eagles Play Home Opener on Sept. 9 verses Gonzaga: Eastern will play its first home game at 1 p.m. on Sept. 9 against local rival Gonzaga. In addition, the soccer team will have a free clinic at 10:30 a.m., and all children through eight grade are welcome.

"Gonzaga is always a tough game," added Hageage "We let one slip away the last time they were here in double overtime, (3-2 on Oct. 4, 2005) and we look forward to the challenge. It should be a good home opening match."


2007 Season Outlook: 2007 Eastern women's soccer team re-groups with seven returning starters and 14 newcomers After saying goodbye to eight seniors which included two-time Big Sky Conference Defensive Most Valuable Player Tiera Como, the 2007 Eastern Washington University women's soccer team will look to re-group with seven returning starters and more than a dozen newcomers.

Eastern lost four starters and nine letter winners from the 2006 team that went 5-13-1 overall and 1-6 in conference play. The key loss is Como, who set five school records and was a four-time Big Sky All-Academic award winner.

"We were disappointed with the way last year ended after such a great run at the end of September," said head coach George Hageage, whose team lost its last six games of the season. "How do we develop a mentality of attacking soccer, yet possess the ball with a team that struggled to do both last fall? We go back to square one as a team and build from that point."

Seven starters return from last year's team: Morgan O'Friel, Jocelyn Bement, Brittney Doran, Abby Jensen, Cyeeta Mott, Carrie Conners and Shelly Ikerd. Jensen, Ikerd and Conners were honorable mention selections to the 2006 All-Big Sky team for the first time in their careers. Mott earned All-Big Sky honors for the third-straight season, earning honorable mention in 2006. Ikerd and Melissa Guthrie led the team last season in goals with four apiece. Eastern returns six other letter winners, including 2006 redshirt and three-year letter winner Cynita Mott.

"As captains, Abby Jensen, Carrie Conners and Cyeeta Mott have established a more cohesive leadership unit," said Hageage. "Ashley Renz has benefited from being our only goalkeeper last spring and has become a force in the net. Cynita Mott is back, Brittany Doran has recovered from her shin injury, Kit Rood has stepped up her fitness, and Jocelyn Bement is back to freshman form.

The great thing about having a tough year is finding out who the players are who want to compete," said Hageage. "We lost some seniors who will be missed and some players who either quit or transferred. We have become a stronger team because the players who are still here believe in self-discipline, are fierce competitors and believe in each other. Our team is now together on a mission and full of players who worked extra hard in the weight room this past winter and are sacrificing other personal time to make sure that we make the tournament this year."

There will be 14 newcomers to the 2007 team, including transfer Lauryn Koelzer of Walla Walla (Wash.) Community College.

"It will be interesting to see how our new players fit in," said Hageage.


Forwards: The Eagles greatest experience is up front at the forward position where three starters return: Bement, Cyeeta Mott and Ikerd. Megan Roper will return this season after red-shirting last year due to a knee injury.

"Unfortunately, we did not make it through the spring without a major injury," said Hageage. "Brittany Sparks tore her ACL and will be out in the fall. It is a big blow to our team but, as we showed in the spring, other players will fill the void."

Three-year letter-winner Cyeeta Mott has scored eight goals in her career and was named Big Sky Player of the Week on Sept. 27, 2006, after she scored the game-winning goal as the Eagles upset Long Beach State, 2-1. It was the school's first-ever victory over a ranked opponent.

Ikerd's four goals last season included two game-winners. It was her first year in the program after transferring from Walla Walla Community College.

"Will somebody step up and become a dominant force?" asked Hageage. "That is the question to be answered. Cyeeta and Shelly are back. Megan is coming off her knee injury and will help a ton up top."

Two new forwards will join the team this season in Koelzer (Connell HS and Walla Walla CC) and Kaitlin Gatsos (Orting HS, Graham, Wash.).

Koelzer was the Most Valuable Player of the 2A State Championship game in 2003 as a senior at Connell. At WWCC, she was the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Most Valuable Player in 2005 and was an NWAACC All-Star in 2006. In two years at WWCC, Koelzer scored 60 goals.

In the 2006-07 season, Gatsos was selected to the Associated Press All-State team after leading her team with 27 goals and 13 assists. She was also named to the Tacoma News Tribune All-Area first team, was Nisqually League MVP, and served as team captain. Four times in her career she earned All-Nisqually League honors. As a junior she had 26 goals and 16 assists. "The addition of Kaitlin Gatsos and Lauren Koelzer will give us two players with a nose for the goal up top," added Hageage.


Defenders:Two tough senior defenders, Cat Baller and Kelsey Tufnail, are now gone for the Eagles. Returning in the backfield are Conners and Nicole De Shazo, two of the six seniors on this year's team.

Conners started in all 19 games in 2006 and earned All-Big Sky honorable mention. She will be a team captain this season.

Eastern also brings back senior Cynita Mott, the twin sister of senior forward Cyeeta Mott. Cynita redshirted last season and looks to re-join Conners and De Shazo in the back.

"Carrie is one of the best central defenders we have had in my seven years here," Hageage said. "Cynita Mott is back and will stake a claim to a starting position. Nicole De Shazo is a solid returning player."

Newcomers to the defensive side will be Rachel Packer (Auburn Riverside HS, Wash.), Hannah Kreminski (Eagle HS, Idaho), Teryn Taylor (Maple Valley HS, Tahoma, Wash.), Lyndsey Martin (Kamiakin HS, Wash.) and Michaela Florio (Dimond HS, Anchorage, Alaska).

Kreminski helped lead her school to back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005 for the first time in school history.

Taylor was named Co-Most Valuable Player in the South Puget Sound League and a first team All-SPSL selection.

Florio led her high school team to the state championship in 2006 and was named player of the game in the championship contest. She was also named to the All-State team in 2006 and earned all-conference honors.

Martin, a four-year varsity letter winner, was named to the 4A All-State first team in 2006 and second team in 2005. She helped lead her team to a fourth-place finish at the State 4A Championships as a senior when she also earned all-area most valuable player and was a first team all-conference selection for the third straight year. As a sophomore, she helped her team to an undefeated league season and a Big Nine Conference Championship.

"We have added more speed and strength in the back with the addition of All-State defenders Hannah Kreminski, Teryn Taylor, Michaela Florio and Lyndsey Martin," added Hageage. "This position will quickly become our strength next year."


Midfielders: Returning starters in the midfield include juniors Jensen, Doran, O'Friel and Bourret. As a freshman in 2005, Doran was named to the All-Big Sky second team. She has played in all 37 games in her Eagle career and started in 35 of them. Jensen earned All-Big Sky honorable mention last season and was a team captain.

Other players returning from last season are Kit Rood, Mandy Cheney, Priscilla Millsich, Chelsey Hannesson and Maia Fastabend.

"Abby returns to the midfield with Chelsey to provide a good core to the middle of the park," said Hageage. "We are looking for Kit, Lillian and Maia to step up and give us depth in the middle. On the outside, Mandy, Priscilla, Jocelyn and Morgan give us an experienced group of outside midfielders, all with good speed. Teryn and Michaela could also see time in the midfield."

One newcomer to the midfield will be Rachel Wilson (Service HS, Anchorage, Alaska).


Goalkeepers: After losing all three goalkeepers from last season, the Eagles return 2006 redshirt Ashley Renz, a transfer from Walla Walla Community College. She will be competing with freshmen Jessica Blessard (North Bend, Wash.) and Kelly Roark (University Place, Curtis HS '07) to earn playing time in the goal.

Renz earned All-Conference honors both years she was at WWCC. Blessard was a four-year varsity letter winner in high school, a varsity captain and team most valuable player. She was named three times to the All-King Co Conference team while leading her school to three conference and two state championship playoff berths. Her senior season she recorded 12 shutouts. Roark was a three-year varsity letter winner at Curtis and team captain in 2006.

"Ashley and Jessica, along with Kelly, will give us some depth at the position," said Hageage.



2007 Schedule: The 2007 women's soccer schedule includes seven Big Sky Conference games and 10 non-conference games, highlighted by four opponents the Eagles have not played before.

Eastern will start on the road for the fifth consecutive season. The Eagles begin play at the NAU Mountain Classic Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, playing two teams they have never seen before. First up will be Lamar University out of Beaumont, Texas. The Cardinals will compete in the Southland Conference in their first season as a program. On Sept. 2, Eastern will play Temple University out of the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 2006, the Owls were 4-14-0 overall and 1-8 in conference play.

Cross-town rival Gonzaga visits Cheney (Sept. 9) for EWU's home opener. The Eagles fell to the Bulldogs in Spokane last season, 3-0. Eastern will look to snap its four-game losing streak to Gonzaga, as the last victory over the Bulldogs was back in 2002 in Spokane, when the Eagles won GU, 2-1.

The Eagles then host the third team that they have never played before in Cal State Bakersfield (Sept. 14). The Roadrunners were a member of the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association last season, but this year will be their first as a member of Division I. They will compete as an independent team.

In between a pair of home games, Eastern will travel to Boise State (Sept. 16), a team they fell to in Cheney last season, 4-3.

Utah State (Sept. 23) will close out the first homestand of the year. The Aggies return to Cheney after a three-year absence. The Aggies defeated the Eagles, 1-0, last season in Logan, Utah.

Eastern will then endure a grueling five-game road stretch that takes them to Seattle, California, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. They will start in Seattle at the University of Washington (Sept. 28). In their last meeting back in 2001, the Huskies defeated the Eagles 7-0 in Cheney.

Eastern travels two days later to San Jose State, another team EWU will meet for the first time. The Spartans participate in the Western Athletic Conference. Last season they went 8-11-3 and fell in the semifinals of the conference tournament to top-seeded Fresno State in double-overtime.

The last non-conference game will be on the road at Idaho (Oct. 7). Last season, the Eagles playedhost to the Vandals and won, 2-1.

"The schedule was better before a couple of schools decided to drop their trip up to the Pacific Northwest," said Hageage. "We have a very hectic schedule with fewer home games than were anticipated. We also play teams like Temple, Lamar, San Jose State and Cal State Bakersfield for the first time."

Conference play will begin at Northern Colorado (Oct. 12). The Bears were a newcomer to the Big Sky Conference last season as they ended with a 6-12-0 overall record and were 2-6-0 in BSC play. Eastern defeated them last season in Cheney, 2-0, for EWU's only conference win of the year.

The five-game road stretch concludes Oct. 14, at Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks defeated the Eagles, 3-1, last year and handed them their first conference loss of the season.

After nearly a month without a home game, Eastern hosts Portland State (Oct. 19) and Sacramento State (Oct. 21) at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center. Sacramento State fell in the Big Sky Conference Championship game last year to Idaho State. Portland State barely missed the playoffs last year at 4-3-0 in Big Sky play.

The Eagles then travel to Weber State (Oct. 25). The Wildcats fell to Idaho State 1-0 in the first round of the BSC Playoffs last year.

Defending Big Sky Conference Champion Idaho State will be the final home match in the Big Sky Conference on Oct. 28. At 10-9-1 overall and 5-2-0 in conference play, the Bengals fell 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Utah.

The next day the Eagles travel to Missoula to play Montana in the BSC regular season finale (Nov. 2). Montana fell in the first round of the conference playoffs last season to Sacramento State.

Senior day will be a non-conference match against Utah Valley State (Nov. 4). Last season, the Eagles won in dramatic fashion in Orem, Utah, with a 1-0 victory in overtime. Shelly Ikerd scored the only goal in that game off an assist by Cyeeta Mott. That duo is back in action again this season as the Eagles look to defeat UVSU for the second straight time. Eastern has never lost to the Wolverines and tied with them once back in the 2003 season.

The top four teams at the end of the regular season schedule will play in the Big Sky Conference Tournament at the site of the regular season champion Nov. 8,10.

"The Big Sky is wide open again," said Hageage. "Sacramento State, Idaho State, Weber and Montana will all have good teams. Don't count any of us out because every year one or two teams who made the Big Sky Tournament the previous year are knocked out of the top four the next year.

I am extremely proud of our program," said Hageage. "In the last five years EWU, PSU, Weber State and Idaho State have won a Big Sky title. Good teams like Montana, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State have not won a title. NAU, SAC and UNC have never won a title in the Big Sky.

Here at Eastern, only volleyball has placed in the top four in the Big Sky more than we have in the last five years. Soccer is tied with football and men's basketball with three.

We lose Jason Quintero and have the ability to hire a second assistant to take care of the developmental team, camps, pre-game activities and promotions. This will be the first year I will be able to have pre-game meetings for our home matches!"


2006 Recap: Goalkeeper Tiera Como Ends Illustrious Career

Senior goalkeeper Tiera Como was the biggest loss from Eastern's 2006 team that went 5-13-1 overall and 1-6 in conference play. Eastern started the season 5-7-1, including its Big Sky opener, but lost its final six games.

Como had 152 saves as she earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors for the second straight season. She was the two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Sky and left Eastern on top of the record books in five different categories including saves (420). She was also a four-time Big Sky All-Academic award winner.

"Realistically, how do we replace Tiera?" Hageage asked.

Other letter winners lost from last season include Cat Baller, Melissa Guthrie, Kelsey Tufnail, Gwen Burgess, Morgan Lutgens and Kim Robinson. Tufnail and Baller both earned All-Big Sky honorable mention honors.

"It will be tough with the loss of Tiera Como and Kelsey Tufnail in the back," added Hageage.

The highlight of the 2006 season was EWU's first-ever win over a top-ranked program as the Eagles defeated Long Beach State, 2-1, then ranked 21st in the country. The only Big Sky Conference win of the season for the Eagles came in the opener against league newcomer Northern Colorado on Oct. 6, as the Eagles shut out the Bears 2-0. Eastern then lost the remainder of its conference games to Northern Arizona 3-1, Portland State 1-0, Sacramento State 2-1, Weber State 1-0, Big Sky Conference Champions Idaho State 5-1, and Montana 1-0.

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