Sparks moves to within one of school record for goals in a year with her sixth
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team battled to a 2-2 double-overtime tie with San Francisco on Friday afternoon (Sept. 25). In the contest, Brittany Sparks scored her sixth goal of the season and is now just one shy of the school record.
Just over 17 minutes into the contest, Sparks got the Eagles on to the scoreboard when she beat a defender as well as the goalkeeper before taking an open shot at net from 15 yards out. She now trails Lauryn Koelzer's school record of seven, which was set last year.
In fact, she has now scored in three straight games and, dating to the final two games of the 2008 season, in seven of Eastern's last 11 contests. Sparks also leads all Big Sky Conference players this year in goals scored.
"Brittany is on a roll, no matter who she is playing," head coach George Hageage said. "She seems to be a handful and has proven she can play with anyone."
Eastern Washington (2-6-1) then doubled its lead when Kasey McNeill scored the first goal of the freshman's career. Whitney Brannan was at the top of the box and passed it to Morgan O'Friel on the right side who crossed it to McNeill. She found herself just in front of the goal and tucked it just inside the right post from four yards out. The score came in the 62nd minute.
"Kasey's first goal was great," Hageage said. "It was awesome to see her crash the near post and Morgan had a nice cross to her."
However, San Francisco (4-1-5) gained some momentum back when O'Friel committed a handball violation in the penalty box, and Ashley O'Brien converted the ensuring penalty kick in the 79th minute.
The Dons then tied the contest at 2-2 with a dramatic score just 48 seconds before the final horn. Molly Hall crossed it from the left side and Megan Connor shot it past the Eastern goalkeeper from eight yards out.
Incredibly, the tie is San Francisco's fifth consecutive.
"They always say 2-0 is the hardest lead to hold in soccer, and I see why," Hageage said. "It is just big enough where you are feeling comfortable and you do not have the same intensity. Credit to San Francisco because in their last four games, they have showed they are going to battle and tie things up. They have a lot of character and played well in the second half.
"Although we do need to find ways to still hold on and attack after giving up a goal to only lead by one and not allow another one in, we did show a bit of character to hold on to the tie. We are starting to do what we need to do to get results. We will take it."
Lisa Dimak, Eastern's goalkeeper, recorded five saves in the game, all in the first half. Offensively, 10 different players recorded shots for the Eagles, with Sparks and Chelsea Hannesson contributing three apiece.
The Eagles return to action on Sunday (Sept. 27) with their final non-conference game of the season, as South Dakota will visit for an 11 a.m. contest. The Coyotes are 2-5-1 after falling at Idaho by a 2-1 score this afternoon.