Eastern Washington now looks ahead to Gonzaga showdown on Sunday
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team played host to a tough UTEP squad on Thursday afternoon (Sept. 3) and took it right to the Miners before falling in a double-overtime thriller, 3-2.
The Eagles took 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the contest before UTEP battled back to tie each time, its second goal coming in the 87th minute. The Miners then claimed the game winner in the 107th minute.
Eastern Washington (1-2), however, has impressed so far in 2009 with its goal-scoring abilities. The Eagles have now scored six goals, a total it took last year's squad seven games to reach. Eastern has also tallied at least two scores in a game twice already, which was accomplished a total of three times during the entire 2008 season.
"I was happy that, after the Seattle University game (a 2-0 loss on Monday), we worked primarily on two things - moving the ball faster under pressure and competing for everything - and we accomplished those two goals for more than 100 minutes," head coach George Hageage said. "We also created two beautiful scoring opportunities that were finished.
"On the disappointing side, we do need to not allow easy opportunities and to protect leads."
Morgan O'Friel, after having some sizzling shots go just wide over the past week, was able to hit pay dirt for the first time since 2007 when she took a cross from Whitney Brannan and converted from five yards out.
The senior, who sat out last year due to an injury, was able to create space for herself before she received the ball and then beat UTEP's goalkeeper, Sara Kaltwasser, one-on-one. That score came in the fifth minute.
UTEP then was able to tie the game when Eastern's Hannah Kreminski committed a hand ball in the box, and Jo Radcliffe converted the penalty kick in the 16th minute.
Eastern struck right back with a beautiful goal in the 36th minute, when Brittney Doran nailed a header past Kaltwasser. She, like O'Friel on her goal, had also created space for herself in the box and scored from about five yards out. Chelsey Hannesson earned the assist for a well-placed corner kick.
Then, for the next 40 minutes, neither team was able to tickle the twine until UTEP's Brittany Kindzierski tied the contest in the 87th minute. At that time, she received the ball from Melissa Desilets 15 yards out before chipping it over Eastern's goalkeeper, Jamie Walker, and into the net.
Eastern's best opportunity in the overtime sessions came when Brittany Sparks had a shot on goal in the 102nd minute which was easily saved by Katlwasser.
UTEP's game winner in the 107th minute came on a breakaway from midfield when Chelsea Winbush took a pass from Skye Schultz and beat Walker from 15 yards out, tucking it into the right corner of the net.
"UTEP is a good team," Hageage said. "They are fast and physical, what you expect from a Conference USA team, and are going to be one of the tougher teams we will play this year."
The Eagles now look ahead to their annual rivalry contest with Gonzaga, which will take place on the Eastern campus at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 6). The Bulldogs fell to Washington State 3-0 on Thursday and will bring a 2-1 mark into Sunday's game.