Eagles Kick Off Big Sky Season
Split week sees Eastern Washington make trip to Weber State, host Idaho State
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team opens its Big Sky Conference season this week with a road contest versus Weber State at 2 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday (Oct. 8) before playing host to Idaho State at 11 a.m. on Sunday (Oct. 11).
The Eagles have been off since dominating in a 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27. That historic day saw Eastern tie the school mark for goals in a game as well as Brittany Sparks tie and break the school record for goals in a season with her seventh and eighth.
Weber State is 4-6 after falling at Oregon 1-0 in double overtime on Saturday (Oct. 3). Historically, the Eagles have lost five straight to the Wildcats, but four were one-goal affairs. The last two were especially tight, as the teams battled to double overtime in each of those contests before WSU scored the game winner.
Eastern Washington is looking for its first-ever win in Ogden, Utah, on Thursday, as the Eagles are 0-7 all-time there.
Idaho State (5-4) will ride a three-game winning streak into a home contest versus Montana on Thursday. The Bengals most recently beat Utah State 1-0 and Utah Valley and Wyoming by identical 2-1 scores.
Eastern Washington and the Bengals have had a tight series as of late, splitting the last five meetings 2-2-1. Last year, the teams battled to a 1-1 double-overtime tie in Pocatello.
Sparks Breaks Record, Eyes More
Brittany Sparks has already broken the school record for goals in a single season with eight.
Her seventh and eighth scores both came in a dominating 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27.
The record breaker was a memorable score in and of itself. She sped with the ball 40 yards from goal before racing left to right across the box, beating three defenders and the goalkeeper to create open space in front of her and then slotting the ball home.
She has now scored two goals in a game twice this season, having also done so in a 4-1 win over McNeese State on Aug. 29. That feat ties that school record.
After both of those performances, she was named Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, becoming the first Eagle to earn that award since Abby Jensen accomplished the feat on Oct. 1, 2007.
Sparks has 16 points this year, which ties that mark with Cyeeta Mott, who had that total in the 2007 season. Her two game-winning goals also tie the school record.
The junior is now setting her sights on career records. Her 11 goals in her career is tied for second on that list, just three behind the mark currently held by Mott (2004-07).
She has 25 points, which is third on that list, 10 behind Mott's record of 35.
This year, Sparks ranks 21st nationally in goals per game (0.80) and leads the Big Sky in that category. She is also 42nd nationally in points per game (1.60) and leads the league in that category, as well.
Let's Score Some Goals
Eastern Washington is one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, as evidenced by its 1.80 goals per game placing the team 78th among NCAA Division I teams and leading the Big Sky Conference in that category.
Twice this year, the team has scored four or more goals in a game. Eastern's 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27 tied that school record (last achieved in a 5-0 win over Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007), while the Eagles had four in a 4-1 defeat of McNeese State on Aug. 29.
The Eagles also lead the Big Sky in shots (14.10), points (4.90) and assists (1.30) per game.
The Eagles have scored 18 goals this year, already surpassing the 16 scores the 2008 team had.
Three times has an Eagle scored two goals in a game this year, as Brittany Sparks accomplished the feat twice (in the McNeese State and South Dakota games) and Whiney Brannan (in a 3-0 defeat of Eastern Oregon on Sept. 9).
The two goals by those players ties the school record, which has now been achieved a total of 13 times.
Records Falling by the Wayside
Just past the half-way point of the 2009 season, the Eagles have already seen major school records broken with more expected to fall in the upcoming weeks.
For a single season, the goal-scoring record has fallen (Brittany Sparks has eight), while the mark for assists is close to going down as well (both Morgan O'Friel and Whitney Brannan have three this year, one off the mark of four, set by Cyeeta Mott in 2007).
Sparks has tied the school mark for points with 16, originally set by Mott in 2007. Meanwhile, Brannan is climbing that list, as well, as her 11 tallies place her in a fourth-place tie, just five behind the current mark.
Also, Sparks has seen two of her goals be of the game-winning variety that ties that mark, a total that has been achieved 10 times.
In the career portion of the record book, Sparks is nearing the goal record of 14 (Mott, 2004-07), as she has 11 scores in her career. Sparks is currently third in points (25), as Mott also holds that mark with 35.
O'Friel has five career helpers, which ties for third on that chart, and she is two from that school mark.
Chelsey Hannesson and Sparks have three game-winning scores apiece and tie for fourth on that list, just two behind the school mark.
In a single game, Sparks has scored two goals twice this year (versus McNeese State and South Dakota) and Brannan has done so once (Eastern Oregon), tying that school mark, which has now been attained 13 times.
For a team, Eastern Washington's 5-1 win over South Dakota on Sept. 27 tied that school mark, which was originally set in a 5-0 defeat of Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007.