Eastern grabs early lead with goal from Byers, but cannot hold on against Bulldogs
The Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team closed out the 2012 season with a tough 4-1 loss against Gonzaga on Sunday (Nov. 4) at Gonzaga Soccer Field in Spokane, Wash.
Junior Siara Byers put Eastern in the lead at the 33 minute-mark, when she blasted a shot into the back of the net from 22 yards out. Prior to the goal, the ball was knocked around by EWU in the box before a controlled pass was sent out to Byers. Byers had one defender to beat, but she maneuvered around the player with ease, found open space and secured the unassisted goal.
Gonzaga responded with the equalizer nine minutes later, off a direct free kick just outside the 18-yard line. GU's sophomore Tori Lee took the kick and sent a powerful shot straight at the goal. Senior goalkeeper Jamie Walker got a hand on the ball, but could not stop the force of the shot from carrying it into the net.
“We came out strong in the first half,” said head coach George Hageage. “But everything started to slide when our communication fell apart on the free kick. We kept trying to shift someone into the middle to take away their shot opportunity on the kick, but unfortunately our communication didn't happen fast enough. Once you give up that tying goal in an away game, it is hard to contain play from then on.”
At the end of the first half, the Zags broke through Eastern’s defense with a well-played through-ball from Emily Eckmann to Lauren Luke at the 43:32-mark. Luke took a touch on the ball and drove it home to put Gonzaga in the lead, 2-1.
At halftime, the Bulldogs led in shots 12-3, but the Eagles efficiently put all three of their shots on goal and converted one.
Walker also came up big with five saves, including an impressive diving save that required her to readjust her position mid-air to collect the ball off a weird bounce.
In the second half, Gonzaga added an insurance goal in the 59th minute. Freshman Sila Tuiofea chipped the ball up into the box toward teammate Emma Dolcetti, who redirected the ball into the goal with a perfect header that arched over the keeper.
The Bulldogs had another good look at goal at the 70 minute-mark, but Walker made an outstanding save by knocking the shot up and over the crossbar.
“Jamie has done really well throughout her career,” said Hageage. “We are proud of her. She is one of the better goalkeepers we have had since I have been here. She stepped up and had some really great saves today in her final game.”
With five minutes left on the game clock, EWU’s senior forward Kasey McNeill broke away from the defense and took an uncontested run on goal. But goalkeeper Susan Brown rushed McNeill and thwarted her shot attempt.
As the sun was setting on the match, the final goal of the game was notched with just under three minutes left on the clock. The Bulldogs sent a shot in that was blocked by Walker and rebounded back out. Dolcetti collected the loose ball and passed it off to senior Alicia Beggren. Breggen caught Walker out of position and slipped the ball in the net to close out the match 4-1.
“We wanted to win this one,” said Hageage. “But we have come a long way this season. We played this team in the spring and lost 2-0, but I don’t think we even had a shot of winning then – and today we had a shot. A lot of combinations are happening with our freshmen and sophomores, so I feel really good about where we are headed for next year.”