After playing 3 games each of the last two weeks, EWU has just 1 contest this week
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team is embarking on a much less hectic portion of its schedule in the upcoming weeks, with just three contests in 24 days.
Prior to that stretch, the Eagles played seven times over the first 16 days of the campaign.
That period wrapped up last week with a 3-0 win over Eastern Oregon, a 1-0 road loss to Cal State Bakersfield and a 6-1 defeat at the hands of UC Davis, who had scored 16 goals in three games.
This coming week, Eastern Washington will make a short 76-mile trip south to take on Idaho. The Vandals have won 4-of-5 and will bring a 4-3 record into the game.
Idaho and Eastern Washington have had a streaky all-time series. The Eagles have claimed the last five match-ups, while the Vandals took seven prior to that. EWU won the first meeting in 1997 by a 3-0 score.
In last year's meeting in Cheney, the Eagles scored in the 71st minute and won 1-0.
Sparks Named Big Sky Offensive POW
Brittany Sparks was rewarded for an outstanding performance in the team's 4-1 win over McNeese State on Aug. 29 with Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades.
She scored two of Eastern's four goals, tying a school record for goals in a game.
Sparks also helped the team to a goal total that has only been surpassed twice in EWU history, once in a 5-0 win over Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007, and once in a 6-0 victory over NAIA member Carroll College on Oct. 11, 1997.
In fact, Sparks scored in three straight contests, as she tickled the twine in each of the last two games of the 2008 campaign.
Her initial goal against the Cowgirls came in the 25th minute and earned EWU a 2-0 advantage. She took a pass from Whitney Brannan and tucked the ball just inside the left post.
Then, in the 84th minute, she scored Eastern's fourth goal of the contest when she received a pass from Chelsey Hannesson and beat the goalkeeper from seven yards out.
Sparks is the first Eagle to earn Offensive POW honors since Abby Jensen was awarded the accolades on Oct. 1, 2007.
Also, Sparks has two timely goals, as they were game-winning scores (meaning they gave the Eagles one more goal than their opponents in each of those two games).
The two game-winning goals in a single season ties the school record, while Sparks' three career game-winning scores is tied for fourth, just two behind the record of five, set by Cyeeta Mott (2004-07).
Let's Score Some Goals
The Eagles poured in four goals, tied for its third-highest scoring output in history, in defeating McNeese State 4-1 on Aug. 29.
Brittany Sparks tickled the twine twice, scoring in the 25th and 84th minutes. The junior entered 2009 with three career goals and had in fact scored in her third straight game, having tallied scores in each of the final two contests of the 2008 season.
The only time Eastern Washington had ever scored more than four goals in a game came on Aug. 31, 2007, in a 5-0 win over Lamar and on Oct. 11, 1997, in a 6-0 victory over NAIA member Carroll College.
The Eagles got on the scoreboard first when Mandy Cheney was taken down in the box, and Kirsten Fausko slotted home the ensuing penalty kick, the sophomore's first career goal.
Sparks' initial goal of the day came when she took a pass from Whitney Brannan and tucked the ball just inside the left post.
Then, McNeese State cut its deficit in half with a perfectly-placed and timed pass from Lauren LaLanne hit Sarah Lowdon, who was one-on-one with the goalkeeper 25 yards from goal before scoring.
Brannan then got on the scoreboard when she also hit a ball that nicked the crossbar, this time the underside, before hitting pay dirt. That goal came as a result of a scramble in the box following an Eastern shot attempt and was scored in the 51st minute.
Sparks scored her second goal, and Eastern's fourth, in the 84th minute when she took a pass from Chelsey Hannesson and beat the goalkeeper from seven yards out.
The Eagles then scored twice in a 3-2 double-overtime loss to UTEP on Sept. 3 and had a trio of scores in a 3-0 win over Eastern Oregon on Sept. 9.
In the UTEP contest, O'Friel was able to hit pay dirt for the first time since 2007 when she took a cross from Brannan and converted from five yards out.
The team's second goal of the contest came when Brittney Doran nailed a header past UTEP's goalkeeper. The assist on that goal came from a well-placed corner kick from Chelsey Hannesson.
In the EOU contest, Brannan scored twice to tie the school record for goals in a game. The pair of scores also doubled her career total to four. Sparks also had a score in the game, her third of the season and sixth of her career.
Sparks also scored in a loss to UC Davis on Sunday (Sept. 13).
Eastern Washington has now tallied 10 goals this year, a total that was not reached in 2008 until the 12th game of the campaign.
The Eagles have been very accurate in their shot taking, as the team ranks third-to-last in the league in shots per game (11.14), but are second in goals per game (1.43).
Eagles Lead Way in Corner Kicks Allowed
Eastern Washington has done an outstanding job so far this year not allowing its opponents to take corner kicks.
In fact, the Eagles lead all league teams in that category, allowing an average of just 2.86 per game.
Big Sky Preseason Poll
In the Big Sky Coaches Preseason Poll, Weber State was selected first and was followed, in order, by Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, Montana, Portland State, Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Eastern Washington.