Eagles Shutout Thunderbirds 1-0 for Sixth Place Big Sky Finish
Eastern makes first shot attempt count in fifth shutout of the season
The Eastern Washington University women’s soccer team closed out the Big Sky Conference season with a strong 1-0 win against Southern Utah on Sunday (Oct. 21) at Thunderbird Soccer Field in Cedar City, Utah.
In the first half, the Thunderbirds out-shot the Eagles 8-4. But the Eagles capitalized on their first shot of the game, making it count for a 1-0 victory.
Junior midfielder Torri Sitzman put Eastern on the board with the game-winning goal. Only 14 minutes into the match, senior Danielle Jones sent a corner kick into a crowded box, but it bounced around SUU’s defense and was cleared from the goal front. Sitzman controlled the loose ball just outside the 18-yard line and drove it over the keeper, into the back of the net. The goal was the first of Sitzman’s collegiate career.
After gaining the lead, Eastern worked to hold the Thunderbirds scoreless the rest of the match.
“In the second half we focused on keeping them down on their end,” said head coach George Hageage. “We changed to a 4-4-2 formation and bunkered down. The wind was at least 30 miles per hour, so it was really hard to get balls in the air. Plus, we were playing in high altitude for the second time in two days and were getting pretty worn out. But we played extremely well defensively and the girls all worked really hard.”
Their efforts paid off, resulting in a 1-0 victory for the Eagles. This was their second consecutive shutout and fifth shutout of the season.
Senior goalkeeper Jamie Walker collected six saves in 90 minutes of play, for her third shutout in 2012. The Thunderbirds led the shot count 12-7, but only put six on goal. However, all but two of Eastern’s shot attempts were on frame. Senior Kasey McNeill led the team with two shots, putting both on goal for a 1.00 on goal percentage.
Southern Utah and Eastern both recorded four corner kicks in the match, but SUU committed nine fouls compared to EWU’s seven.
Today concluded the Big Sky regular season for all teams in the conference, making standings official. Idaho State, Montana, and Portland State were all named co-regular season champions – tied with a 6-2-1 conference record for a total of 19 points. The fourth, and final, spot in the tournament was awarded to Weber State, standing at 5-3-1 with 16 points.
The 2012 Big Sky tournament will be hosted by Idaho State on Friday, Nov. 2 and Sunday, Nov. 4, at Davis Field in Pocatello, Idaho.
After beating SUU, Eastern tied for sixth place with Northern Arizona with a 3-3-3 conference record, totaling 12 points. Northern Colorado (4-2-3) finished just ahead of the Eagles, but fell one point shy of a chance at the tournament.
Rounding out the bottom of the conference are both Big Sky newcomers, Southern Utah (1-6-1) and North Dakota (0-9).
“We are pretty happy to see the progress this team made from last year,” said Hageage. “We went 6-7-4 overall this season, even with all of the injuries we endured. We do have one more game on the schedule against Gonzaga, but I feel like we are in a good place closing out this season and headed into next year.”
The Eagles officially close out the 2012 season against cross-town rival Gonzaga on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. The game will take place at Gonzaga Soccer Field in Spokane, Wash.