Oct. 29, 2007
Freshman Jessica Blessard was named Big Sky Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week for her performances against Weber State Thursday (Oct. 25) and Idaho State Sunday (Oct. 28). For the week, Blessard totaled 198 minutes, 27 seconds in goal with 15 saves and the first shutout of her career.
"We are very excited for her," said assistant coach Tamara Hageage. "This year we are blessed to have two really outstanding goalkeepers, Ashley Renz and Jessica Blessard. Ashley carried us through over half of the season and Jessica has stepped in now.
"I am really impressed with how Jessica has come along since preseason and she has herself to thank for that. I can take some credit, but Ashley also gets some credit for being a tremendous leader and upperclassman, and coming in and showing her the ropes. So we are really proud of Jessica, our team and their performances."
Blessard, from North Bend, Wash., had 11 saves in a 1-0 loss to Weber and four saves in a 1-0 shutout over Idaho State. She has played in a total of seven games and started the last four, in addition to playing four junior varsity games.
"Jessica being a freshman was a little bit green so she needed some time to get her feet under her so to speak. I think playing in the four junior varsity games really helped her come along constantly training with better players helps."
She is the second Eagle this year to be named Defensive Player of the Week. Blessard took over as starter for Renz, who had been playing with a wrist injury.
"Ashley came in and definitely won the position hands down (at the beginning of the season)," said Hageage. "She suffered a wrist injury and has been playing with that, not to mention that having to start and play 11 games is mentally straining for a goalkeeper. I felt she needed a little bit of a break after that really tough road trip with Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona.
"I feel we have two solid goalkeepers, and are in the position to give Ashley that needed break," added Hageage. "This gives us a chance to give Jessica some real varsity experience which is really different then a junior varsity game. Jessica has earned her chance to start for us and really stepped up to the challenge. We are very proud of her."
The Eagles will head to Montana Friday (Nov. 2) for their last conference game starting at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. Eastern will then head home to play a non-conference game against Utah Valley State Sunday (Nov. 4) for Senior Day at 11 a.m.