Eastern on a roll at home, while Grizzlies have yet to win conference game on the road
With only three Big Sky regular-season games left on the schedule, the Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team prepares for its final outing in Cheney – one that could have significant implications in Eastern’s quest for a postseason berth.
The Eagles play Montana on Friday (Oct. 12) at 3:30 p.m. at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center Soccer Field in Cheney, Wash. In honor of Senior Day, the team will take time to acknowledge its six seniors before the match begins.
As the Big Sky regular season winds down, the race for postseason has started to heat up. Only the top four teams with the best records are accepted to the Big Sky tournament each year. Eastern is currently seventh in the league with eight points, while Montana holds a slight advantage with 10 points. But only six points actually separate the top eight teams in the conference, so it is still anyone’s game.
With the standings so close, Eastern’s home field advantage this weekend becomes increasingly vital. The Eagles have not lost on their home field for three straight games, while four of its five total wins this season have happened in Cheney. EWU defeated Big Sky newcomer North Dakota 4-1 on Friday (Oct. 5) and two days later, held defending Big Sky champion Northern Colorado to a 0-0 tie. Prior to that, Eastern downed Idaho State at home, 2-1.
Eastern owns a 2-2-2 record in the Big Sky and is 5-6-3 overall, more than doubling its winning record from 2011.
The Grizzlies come to Cheney with a 3-2-1 Big Sky record and 7-6-2 overall mark. They are on a two game winning streak, after defeating both Northern Colorado (1-0) and North Dakota (4-0) on their home field. But Montana has yet to earn a win on the road in conference play, losing to both Portland State and Sacramento State 2-0 earlier this season.
In its opening match of the Big Sky, Montana tied Idaho State 1-1 – a team Eastern defeated 2-1. However, the Grizzlies beat Weber State 1-0 in the same weekend WSU dealt the Eagles a 1-0 loss.
Montana is coming off a surprising run in the 2011 season. It earned a trip to the Big Sky tournament as a No. 4 seed, but went on to win the title after defeating No. 1 Northern Colorado and No. 3 Weber State, both in tie-breaking shootouts. Montana secured a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than a decade, but lost in the first round to Stanford – the NCAA tournament champion that year.
The Grizzlies returned 19 letterwinners from that team, 11 of which are starters. Among the veterans is senior forward Erin Craig, who leads the team with four goals, three assists, and 50 shots in 2012.
The all-time record between the Eagles and Grizzlies stands at 9-5-1, in favor of Montana. When the two teams met in 2011, Montana dealt the Eags a 1-0 loss in Missoula. Since 2007, all but one of five matches between Eastern and Montana ended in a one goal difference. Eastern was the victor in three of those contests, from 2007-2009.
Eagle News & Notes
Black Collects Third Big Sky POTW Recognition in 2012: Cassie Black, a sophomore forward on the Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team, is not just scoring goals, but grabbing numerous accolades along the way. For the third time this season, the Big Sky has named Black its Offensive Player of the Week, announced Tuesday (Oct. 9) by the league office. Black is the only player in the Big Sky this season to repeat as a POTW. She shares the honor this week with sophomore midfielder Allie Simon of Montana.This honor comes on the heels of Black’s first collegiate career hat trick, which she earned in Eastern’s 4-1 win against Big Sky newcomer North Dakota on Friday (Oct. 5).With eight goals and two assists, Black currently ranks second in the Big Sky in points with 18 on the season. She leads the Eagles with a .667 on-goal percentage after putting 24 of her 36 season shots on frame. Black has contributed four game-winning goals this year, which puts her one behind the Big Sky leader, Rachel Strawn from Idaho State, while ranking 18th nationally. Just a sophomore, Black already ranks third all-time at Eastern for career goals (14) and is fourth in points in the EWU record book.
Quite the Turnaround: With a 5-6-2 record
heading into the third week of the Big Sky season, Eastern
Washington has already doubled its wins from a year ago. With 13
goals on the season, and at least three games still remaining, the
Eagles have already notched one more goal than the total it had
throughout the entire 2011 campaign. Seven different players have
scored at least one goal for EWU, while five different players have
had at least one assist.
Black Hauls in the Honors: Eastern Washington has won four of its last five outings, and put up eight goals in the process. Sophomore Cassie Black has had a hand, or rather foot, in six of those eight goals. In the last three weeks, the Battle Ground, Wash., native has scored five goals and assisted on two others. Her strong play has certainly turned a few heads. Black was a back-to-back Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11 and Sept. 18. She earned College Sports Madness Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 18, and was recognized with the same honor by Inland Northwest Soccer News.com. After leading Eastern to a 1-1 split at the Viking Classic (Sept. 7-9), which included Eastern’s first-ever win against Boise State, Black was named the Offensive MVP of the tournament. She scored two goals against the Broncos.
Black, Schwery and Byers Garner All-Tournament Honors: Three players from the Eastern soccer team were recognized for their strong performances at the Viking Classic (Sept. 7-9) at Hillsboro Stadium in Hillsboro, Ore. Among the All-Tournament team honorees was sophomore forward Cassie Black, sophomore goalkeeper Nathalie Schwery, and junior forward Siara Byers. Black was also given the prestigious honor of Offensive MVP of the Viking Classic. She had an impressive showing against Boise State (Sept. 9), contributing two goals in 75 minutes of play, which helped Eastern secure a 3-1 win – its first ever against the Broncos. She also totaled 57 minutes of play against Utah State on (Sept. 7), tallying three shots with two on goal. Schwery stepped up for her team against Utah State, contributing a career-high 10 saves in 90 minutes of play. The Schuepfheim, Switzerland native had a strong showing between the pipes, only allowing one goal on 17 shot attempts by the Aggies. Hailing from Bremerton, Wash., Byers notched her first goal of the season against Boise State, as she put the Eagles up 2-0 with a strike in the 34th minute.
Black & Schwery Show Up in National Statistics: Sophomores Cassie Black and Nathalie Schwery are not only among the top players in the Big Sky in their respective positions, but both Eagles have also made contributions that have them appearing in the national rankings as well. With five goals on the season, Black is among the top 150 nationally. She ranks second s in the Big Sky for goals, averaging 0.42 per game and is also third in total points with 12. Black has notched three game-winning goals this season, which ranks 37th in the NCAA. Schwery currently holds the top spot in the Big Sky for save percentage, while ranking 37th in the nation. She has collected 51 total saves this season, allowing just nine goals for a .850 save percentage. Those 51 total saves ranks sixth in the Big Sky and 105th among all keepers in the country. Thanks to the combined efforts of Schwery and senior goalkeeper Jamie Walker, Eastern ranks second in the league in saves with 72 on the season and an average of 6.00 per game.