October 31, 2011

Brannan Honored on All-Big Sky Second Team; Four Other Eagles Earn Honorable Mention Accolades

After two-straight years on the honorable mention squad, senior Whitney Brannan caps career with second-team selection

COMPLETE BIG SKY RELEASE


The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team had five players recognized on the All-Big Sky Conference teams, which were released Monday (Oct. 31) by the league office.

Highlighting the list for EWU was senior forward Whitney Brannan, who was selected to the All-Big Sky Second Team. This is Brannan's third-straight year as a conference all-star, as she was on the honorable mention squad in 2009 and 2010.

Also earning a shout-out this season was senior Dashia Huff, juniors Lauren Jacobsen and Jamie Walker and freshman Katie Cashman, who were all named to the All-Big Sky Honorable Mention team.

Brannan certainly proved to be one of the biggest offensive threats in the Big Sky, as she was second overall in shots per game (3.56). 

She finished the season with three goals and four assists, for a total of 10 points in her senior campaign. Six of those 10 points were earned in conference play, which ranked fifth in league-only statistics.

"Whitney became a more complete player this season," said EWU head coach George Hageage. "We switched our system a little bit and introduced some new schemes, and I think that helped Whitney a lot. We obviously would have liked to see her score more, but other teams had her marked. It was by far her best year in terms of creating her own shots though, and she also had four assists."

"Obviously, I am biased, and I think she should have been on the first team, but that's the way it goes sometimes, and I am glad to see the other conference coaches did recognize her abilities."

Brannan will leave Eastern with eight school records to her name - four career, one single season and three single game. Brannan is tied with former Eagle Brittany Sparks for all-time scoring record at EWU with 17 career tallies. She is the sole record holder for career assists (11), points (45) and shots (152).

With her four assists this year, Brannan tied EWU's single-season record in that category. She also tied two single-game records this season, to add to a different one she set in 2010. During her senior campaign, Brannan tied the single-game record for assists (2) and twice tied the record for shots (8). In 2010, she set the school record for goals in a single game when she netted three against South Dakota State for her first-career hat trick.

Joining Brannan as a three-time conference all star is Jacobsen, who has been included on the honorable mention squad for three-consecutive seasons.

The junior midfielder started every Big Sky game of the year, and played nearly every minute. She tallied one goal against regular-season champion, Northern Colorado.

"Lauren had an extremely tough year, and for her to receive this recognition is just testament to the quality of player she is," said Hageage. "She had to battle some injuries early in the season, but then also lost her Dad to a heart attack half-way through the year. So, for her to bounce back and really dig in and play well, especially during our conference season, is a tribute to her effort."

Huff also repeated as an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention selection, as she garnered the same award in 2010 - her first season with the Eagles. With exception of one game that she missed due to injury, Huff started every single game of her two-year career, and averaged the most minutes of anyone on the squad in both 2010 and 2011. She tallied one assist this season.

"I am very happy to see Dashia recognized," said Hageage. "She was the only player in our back line who came into the season with any Division I experience, so she had a lot of responsibility."

Cashman was another Eagle defender honored for her contributions during the 2011 campaign. The freshman from Granite Falls, Wash., started 13 of the 15 games in which she played for a total of 1,239 minutes - the second-most on the team behind Huff.

"Katie was a forward coming out of high school," said Hageage. "But she dropped back to play defense for us and did a great job. There was a stretch in the middle of the season when our team was giving up very few goals, and that was because Dashia and Katie really had things figured out."

After earning two Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week awards during the regular season, Walker garnered the first postseason honor of her career. The junior goalkeeper from Graham, Wash., was second in the conference in saves per game (5.33) and save percentage (.816). She finished the year with 80 total saves, including a career-high 12 at Weber State (Oct. 15). She had four other games with at least eight saves.

 "Jamie was huge for us down the stretch," complimented Hageage. "She made some big time saves that kept us in games. Jamie has really become one of the premier goalkeepers in the conference."

Eastern finished the 2011 season at 2-13-1 and 1-5-1 in Big Sky action. Including Jacobsen, Cashman and Walker, the Eagles will return 18 letterwinners next year.

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