September 23, 2008

Back in the Evergreen State

Sept. 23, 2008

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After spending two of its first four weekends of play more than 1,000 miles from home, the Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team will now play its next four games within the confines of the Evergreen State.

First up will be Idaho in a home contest at 4 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 26). Then the Eagles will make the short trip into Spokane to take on Gonzaga at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 28).

The Eagles are in the midst of a 12-day break from competition following a championship earned at the SDSU Invitational where EWU defeated South Dakota State 2-1 and tied North Dakota State 1-1.

“Even though momentum-wise this does not help at all, this break has been a blessing in disguise because we were pretty banged up,” head coach George Hageage said. “We will have healthy bodies for this clutch run, starting with Idaho.”

Idaho has gotten off to a rough start this season, 1-6-1, with its win coming 2-0 over Idaho State and the tie came versus Niagara 2-2.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga is 4-5-0 and will be playing its sixth home game of the season. This past weekend, Gonzaga fell to Colorado 1-0 and Denver 3-0 at the Colorado Soccer Classic.

“We play Idaho and Gonzaga every year, so we are pretty familiar with both squads,” Hageage said. “Both present unique challenges.

“Idaho is trying to continue success from last year, but have had some disappointing results. We are both similar in how we play, so it will come down to whichever team seizes the moment that day.

“Gonzaga has totally changed its system from last year, to a 4-5-1 with attacking flanks. It will be interesting to see how we handle that.”

Following this week’s contests, the Eagles will make short road trips to Washington State and Seattle University the following weekend before starting Big Sky Conference play at Idaho State on Oct. 9.

Blessard Leads Big Sky Conference                     
Goalkeeper Jessica Blessard is setting the pace among Big Sky Conference players in two different statistical categories, goals against average (1.07) and save percentage (.870).

Fellow goalkeeper Ashley Renz had also played well, as she ranks ninth in each of those categories at 2.64 and .657, respectively.

In saves per game, Renz is eighth (4.60) and Blessard is ninth (5.00).

Bourret, Hannesson Rank in Big Sky Stats           
Lillian Bourret currently ranks eighth among Big Sky Conference players with 2.17 shots per game, while Chelsey Hannesson is tied for second in game-winning goals per game with 0.14.

Jensen Climbs Goal-Scoring Chart
                 
Abby Jensen has scored nine goals in her Eagle career, which is good for third on the Eastern Washington all-time goal-scoring list. She trails Jennie Summers (2002-05), who had 11, and Cyeeta Mott (2004-07), who has the record of 14.

An EWU Career Record Watch set of lists may be found on page 4.

Eagles Win the Title
                                          
Eastern Washington played the best soccer of the four teams at the SDSU Invitational, played from Sept. 12-14, and won the tournament. The Eagles defeated the hosts, South Dakota State, by a 2-1 score before tying North Dakota State 1-1.

Four Eagles earned All-Tournament accolades, including Jocelyn Bement, Jessica Blessard, Lillian Bourret and Lauryn Koelzer. Bement was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Eagles Double Scoring Output Versus CSUB
         
Eastern Washington got its scoring touch late in the second half of its game with Cal State Bakersfield on Sept. 5, doubling its season scoring output.

An Abby Jensen penalty put the Eagles on the scoreboard, which was quickly followed by Lauryn Koelzer scoring a few minutes later. Assisting Koelzer on her goal were Chelsey Hannesson and Sara Byrne.

Koelzer also had a role in the first goal, as she was fouled by CSUB’s goalkeeper on a breakaway, causing the penalty to be awarded.

Unfortunately for Eastern, the Roadrunners had possessed a 3-0 advantage and held on for a 3-2 win.

April Scores Goal on First Collegiate Shot           
Midfielder April Coffin could not have gotten her collegiate career off to a better start, as the freshman scored a goal on her first-ever shot.

In the 31st minute of Eastern’s 1-1 tie with Louisiana-Lafayette on Aug. 29, she blocked a clearing attempt, chased down the loose ball and tapped it into the empty net to give EWU a 1-0 advantage.

The goal came in just her second collegiate game.

Playing for a Championship                                   
The Big Sky Conference’s regular-season champion will play host to this year’s Championship the first week of November. Depending on the host team’s preference, the semifinals will be played on either Nov. 6 or 7, and the title contest will take place on either Nov. 8 or 9.

Last year, Sacramento State won the regular-season crown with a 4-0-3 league record and then claimed the tournament championship with 2-1 and 3-0 wins over Portland State and Northern Colorado, respectively.

The winner earns the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Championship, which will commence on Nov. 14.

2007 Recap                        
The Eastern Washington Eagles are coming off a remarkable season that was the best in school history on many levels.

Most impressively, EWU posted its first winning season (9-8-0) since the inaugural year of the program, 1997. That squad went 5-4-3 against a schedule that included six junior colleges.

The 2007 Eagles narrowly missed qualifying for the Big Sky Conference Championship, finishing in a fifth-place tie with a 3-4-0 league mark.

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