Eagles To Take on Wyoming in Missoula, Mont.

Eagles will look to nab first win of 2010 season and first-ever win against the Cowgirls

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Following a pair of home games last weekend, the Eastern Washington University soccer team will head to Griz country on Sunday (Sept. 12), but not for a matchup with conference-foe Montana. Rather, the Eagles will take on the Wyoming Cowgirls as part of the University of Montana Tournament. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. pacific time.

The Eagles enter Sunday’s contest with a 0-4 record against the Cowgirls. The last time the two teams met was during the 2004 season when Wyoming upended EWU 2-1 in a double-overtime match in Laramie, Wyo. In the previous four meetings between Eastern and Wyoming, two have been played in Cheney, while the other two have been on Wyoming’s home turf. This will be the first time the teams meet on neutral territory.

“We are really looking forward to the matchup with Wyoming,” said EWU head coach George Hageage. “They are very similar to a Big Sky team in terms of skill level and style of play, so it will be a good test for us before conference. Wyoming is very physical and has a lot of threats offensively. I feel like we have progressed with each game so far and if we can refine a couple of things, I am confident we will be able to get our first win of 2010.”

LAST TIME OUT... The Eagles opened their 2010 home slate last weekend when they hosted Seattle and UC-Irvine on Sept. 3 and 5, respectively. In the first match of the weekend, Eastern suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Redhawks, as the home team fell 2-1 in double overtime. Seattle got on the board first after a cross from SU sophomore Emma Levy floated into the box, where the EWU defense was battling with the Redhawks for position. An unfortunate deflection off an Eagle forehead resulted in an own goal at the 9:56 mark. Eager to get the goal back, the Eagles opened the second period with immediate pressure. In the 71st minute, junior Whitney Brannan notched the dramatic equalizer when she blasted a shot from 25 yards out that flew past SU’s goalkeeper Madison Goverde. Freshman Hannah Scott was credited with the assist, as she was able to get a touch on a loose ball, which she sent back to Brannan. The Eagles held the Redhawks for the remainder of the second half and nearly both overtime periods, but with just over one minute remaining in the game, Seattle made a quick counter attack after an EWU corner kick and netted the game-winning goal. The Eagles dropped their second contest of the weekend when it fell 3-1 to UC-Irvine on Sunday (Sept. 5). Freshman Erin Bourguignon was able to knot the score 1-1 before halftime when she recovered a mis-clearance by the Anteater defense and fired a laser from 10 yards outside the box that hit the crossbar and bounced off the ground twice before finally falling across the goal line. Unfortunately, the Eagles were not able to keep UC-Irvine at bay in the second half, as the Anteaters scored two goals in the 54th and 65th minute.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW... Junior Whitney Brannan has been the main offensive threat for the Eagles thus far in the 2010 campaign. She has scored two goals and taken 10 total shots, five of which were on frame. Freshman Erin Bourguignon is the only other Eagle to have recorded a goal, while freshman Hannah Scott and junior Sara Byrne have both contributed an assist. Twelve different Eagles have taken shots over the four games, including four players with three or more.  The defensive unit is made up of a strong group of upperclassmen, including Byrne, seniors Lyndsey Martin and Hannah Kreminski and junior-transfer Dashia Huff. Sophomore Jamie Walker and senior Lisa Dimak have split time between the pipes for Eastern. Walker has collected 17 saves in her 290:33 minutes of play, while Dimak has corralled 14 saves in 119:27 minutes

Scouting the Cowgirls

• Wyoming comes to Missoula with a 3-3 overall record. The Cowgirls lost to Big Sky Conference foe Northern Colorado (1-2), University of Colorado (0-2) and Colorado College (0-3). UW has defeated Buffalo (3-0), Idaho (2-0) and Kennesaw State (2-1).
• The Cowgirls welcomed back six starters and six other letterwinners from its 2009 squad that went 9-8-3 overall and 3-3-1 in the Mountain West Conference.
• Six different Cowgirls have scored goals this season, including freshman Ellen McCormick and sophomore Jenny Johnson, who have both notched two goals apiece.
• Freshman Nahiomy Ortiz has also been busy, tallying four assists and one goal for UW. Her four assists and 0.67 assists per game lead the Mountain West Conference.
• As a team, UW leads the MWC in corner kicks with 37 total (6.17 per game), proving its offensive prowess.

EWU Notes

Freshmen Firepower - The EWU women’s soccer team has relied heavily on its freshman contingent for valuable minutes off the bench this season. Nine different freshmen have played in at least one game for the Eagles, while three have appeared in all four games. In last weekend’s contests versus Seattle (Sept. 3) and UC-Irvine (Sept. 5), two different freshman earned points for the Eags. Hannah Scott was credited with an assist after she recovered a loose ball at the edge of the box and sent it back to junior Whitney Brannan, who fired a laser straight to the back of the net. The following day, Erin Bourguignon scored her first-career goal after she hammered a hard shot from 10 yards outside that box that hit the crossbar and bounced off the ground twice before finally falling across the goal line. Bourguignon has taken five total shots this season, three of which have been on frame. Cheney native Tanya Baker has also been a constant in the Eagle lineup, as she has appeared in all four games thus far, including a start in the midfield versus Cal State Fullerton on Aug. 29.

Record-Setting Sparks - Senior Brittany Sparks appears in the EWU record book in eight different categories. Last season, she set the school record for single-season goals (11), points (22) and game winners (3). She is tied for first in career goals (14), while ranking second in career points (31) and game winners (4), and fourth in total shots (92). If Sparks scores just one goal this season, she will become the top goal scorer in Eastern Washington history!

Brannan in the Books - Last season, Whitney Brannan etched her name in the EWU record book in four different categories. She is currently tied for fourth in single-season goals (5), tied for second in assists (3), third overall in shots (48) and fourth in points (13). Brannan, who leads the Eagle offense so far this season with 10 shots and two goals, was named to the All-Big Sky honorable mention team for her efforts in 2009. The Kennewick, Wash., native scored her first goal of 2010 against Cal State Bakersfield, while notching her second tally of the season against Seattle.

Hageages at the Helm - EWU head coach George Hageage and assistant coach Tamara Hageage enter their 11th year as directors of the Eagle soccer program. Since taking over the reins in 2000, George and Tamara have led the squad to four Big Sky Conference tournament appearances. Last season, the Eagles celebrated one of their best BSC seasons in history, as the team claimed runner-up honors in the regular-season with a 4-2-1 mark. The only season better than that came in 2004, when the team tied for first in league play with a record of 4-1-1.

Eagles Picked Sixth in BSC Preseason Poll - Similar to the start of last year’s storybook season, Eastern was picked sixth in the 2010 Big Sky Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Last year, the Eagles were selected eighth in the preseason rankings, but proved the pollsters wrong when they claimed runner-up honors in the regular season with an impressive 4-2-1 conference record. That mark in league play was the best for the Red and White since the 2004 campaign. Including last year’s run, EWU has advanced to the BSC tournament four of the last eight seasons.

It’s a Family Affair - The Eastern Washington Eagles have a long history of “soccer sisters.” This year, the team features one set of sisters in Whitney and Brianna Brannan. Throughout history, the Eagles have had three sets of twins on the team, including two at the same time. Cynita and Cyeeta Mott and Jennifer and Kim McMullen all played on the field together during the 2004 season. In addition to siblings, the EWU coaching staff is a full-family effort. Head coach George Hageage and assistant coach Tamara Hageage have been married for 10 years, while George’s father, George Jr., has served as volunteer assistant coach for the last seven seasons.

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