San Francisco, South Dakota pay first-ever trips to the Eastern campus this weekend
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team will play its final two non-conference games of the 2009 season this weekend, welcoming San Francisco and South Dakota to the EWU campus for the first time.
The Eagles are in the midst of the lightest portion of their schedule, as this week's games are the team's second and third of three in a 24-day stretch (Sept. 14-Oct. 7).
That came on the heels of a very busy 16-day span (Aug. 29-Sept. 13) that saw the team play its first seven games of the season.
Eastern is one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, averaging 1.38 goals per game (11 scores in eight games), to place second among league schools in that category.
The Eagles have also scored multiple goals on three occasions, in a 4-1 win over McNeese State, a 3-2 double-overtime loss to UTEP and in a 3-0 blanking of Eastern Oregon.
The only previous meeting between the Eagles and San Francisco occurred on the USF campus on Oct. 16, 2002. The Eagles prevailed in that contest by a 2-1 score.
The Dons have incredibly tied each of their last four games and will bring a 4-1-4 into Friday's contest. San Francisco has gone unbeaten in five games, its longest such streak since having a 4-0-1 stretch from Sept. 19-Oct. 10, 2004.
Eastern Washington and South Dakota have never met previously.
The Coyotes are 2-4-1 and have been the victim of some powerful offensive showings by their opponents, falling 8-0 to Creighton and 9-0 to Nebraska. South Dakota is in the midst of transitioning from Division II to Division I.
After playing the Dons and the Coyotes, Eastern will open the Big Sky Conference campaign at Weber State on Oct. 8.
Sparks Leads Big Sky, Ranks Nationally
Brittany Sparks is quickly climbing the goal-scoring record charts in the Eastern Washington record book.
With five goals this season - 0.63 per game, an average that leads the Big Sky Conference and ranks the junior 74th among all NCAA Division I players - Sparks is already tied for third for most scores in a single season.
Her next tally will move her into a tie for second with Cyeeta Mott (2007) and Sparks' seventh score will tie the school record, currently held by Lauryn Koelzer (2008).
Sparks has eight career goals, which places her in a tie for fifth place on that list. Next is Abby Jensen's nine (2005-08), Koelzer's 10 (2007-08) and Jennie Summers' 11 (2002-05). Mott had 14 from 2004-07 to hold the record.
In Eastern's first game of the season, Sparks scored twice to lead the Eagles to a 4-1 win over McNeese State in an Aug. 29 contest. She was then rewarded for her efforts with Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades.
The two goals also tied the school record for a single game, which has now been reached 12 times.
Eastern's four scores was one from the school record of five set in a 5-0 win over Lamar on Aug. 31, 2007.
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.
Let's Score Some Goals
The Eagles poured in four goals, one from the highest scoring output in history, in defeating McNeese State 4-1 on Aug. 29.
The school mark of five was set on Aug. 31, 2007, in a 5-0 win over Lamar.
Eastern Washington has now tallied 11 goals this year (in eight games), a total that the 2008 team had accumulated through 14 games of that season.
The team has averaged 1.38 goals and 3.88 points per game, both averages that place the team second in the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles have 1.12 assists per contest, which places the team third in the conference.
Two players have scored twice in a game, Brittany Sparks and Whitney Brannan (tying the school record and becoming the 11th and 12th players in school history to do so).
Sparks scored twice in a 4-1 win over McNeese State on Aug. 29, while Brannan did so in a 3-0 defeat of Eastern Oregon on Sept. 9.
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.