October 22, 2010

Eagles Fall to Bears, 3-0

Eastern remains winless on road; looks ahead to home game on Sunday versus league's No. 1, Northern Arizona

Battling heavy rains and high altitude, the Eastern Washington University soccer team dropped a 3-0 decision to Northern Colorado on Friday (Oct. 22) in Greeley, Colo. With the loss, Eastern falls to 2-12-1 overall and 2-3 in league play, while UNC improves to 10-4-2 on the season and 3-1-1 in Big Sky action. The Eagles will now make a quick turnaround, as they host Northern Arizona on Sunday, (Oct. 24) at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center playing fields.

Just two minutes after kickoff in Friday's contest, Eastern found itself in the hole, as UNC junior Laura Wayland gained control of the ball and took a hard shot from 25 yards out. The shot deflected off an EWU defender and dropped into the net, giving the Bears an early 1-0 lead.

The Eagles held their opponent for the remaining 43 minutes of the first half, despite 12 shots taken by the Bears. Jamie Walker, who was recently tabbed Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week, collected three saves in the first frame.

Eastern came out aggressive in the second, earning a corner kick at the 50:06 mark. Junior Whitney Brannan sent a strong ball into the box, but a clearance by the UNC defense left Eastern shorthanded on the other end of the field. UNC freshman Brittany Dunn capitalized on the open space and converted a shot in transition to put the Bears up 2-0.

Almost immediately after the second goal was scored, Northern Colorado extended its lead again, as the Bears' two leading scorers, Ariel Cook and Danielle Birdsall, hooked up for a goal right inside the box.

The Bears held a 19-3 advantage in total shots, as well as 5-0 edge in the foul count.

"It was just one of those days when we couldn't seem to catch a break," said EWU head coach George Hageage. "The girls gave it a good effort, but Northern Colorado is really quick and we had a difficult time matching their speed. Whitney and Brittany [Sparks] had a hard time getting open, and as a result, we were not getting any good looks. As we prepare for our final two home games, we have to work on finishing with shots when we're in the attacking third."

The Eagles are now in a must-win situation for its final two conference games of the season. The team is one spot out of tournament contention, but luckily, its final two matches are at home. Eastern will face Northern Arizona on Sunday (Oct. 24) at 11 a.m. before hosting Montana next Friday (Oct. 29) on senior day. Northern Arizona is leading the league with an undefeated 4-0-1 record. The Lumberjacks will come to Cheney after celebrating a 5-0 rout of Montana, who sits at the bottom of the league standings at 1-4-0.

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