October 7, 2011

Vikings Edge Eagles on Late Second-Half Goal

Junior goalkeeper Jamie Walker has another strong game despite being on the losing end

For the third straight game, the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team fell victim to second-half goal, as the Portland State Vikings topped Eastern, 1-0, on Friday (Oct. 7) in Cheney, Wash.

The Eagles fall to 1-9-0 (0-2-0 Big Sky) on the season, while the Vikings improved to 6-6-0 (2-0-0 Big Sky).

Portland State's only goal came late in the second half when Melissa Trammell sent a cross from the right side of the field to Kala Renard, who then fired a shot that fell into the bottom left corner of the net.

According to head coach George Hageage, the Eagles have been practicing all week on maintaining possession in the middle of the field.

"I thought in spurts we kept control of the ball pretty well," said Hageage. "But we're having problems in the frontline holding possession. And if we have to battle for it 50-50 we tend to lose it, so we're going to keep working on that."

Junior goalkeeper Jamie Walker had another solid defensive performance. She had four saves, including one halfway through the first half where she made a leaping touch to push a shot by Portland State's Amanda Dutra over the goal. Walker was aggressive throughout the entire match. On multiple occasions, she would beat the Viking attackers who were running onto a through ball and cover it up before they had a chance to shoot.

"We addressed her aggressiveness a couple weeks back," said Hageage. "We're young, so we have little experience in the back. You can't expect our current players to clear balls the way we may have in the past. I told her she's going to have to take some risks and do it herself. She did that tonight and had success. She's playing very well right now."

Portland State out-shot Eastern 11-1 in the first half, but only had an 8-7 advantage in the second half for a final tally of 19-8. However, a large majority of Portland State's shots were not too threatening, as they came from outside the 18-yard box.  Senior Whitney Brannan tallied a team-high four shots for the Eags.

Brannan's younger sister, sophomore Brianna, played a solid game as well as part of Eastern's defensive line. She was extremely active in the air using an array of headers to help keep the Vikings out of Eagle territory.

"Brianna gives us a whole new dimension at the center back position and it helps us out immensely," said Hageage.

Eastern will have a quick turnaround, as it hosts Sacramento State this Sunday (Oct. 9) at 11 a.m.

 "We have been playing great soccer in the second half these past few games, and if we continue to do that we're going to be very competitive in all Big Sky matches," said Hageage. "And I love the fact that our young players are getting tons of playing time. It's definitely the reason why we've already seen big strides this season."

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