August 10, 2007

Practices Begin for EWU Women's Soccer Aug. 15

Aug. 10, 2007

The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team starts practices Aug. 15 with an aim to improve its record from last season of 5-13-1 overall and 1-6 in the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles were picked to finish eighth this season in the recently released preseason coaches poll.

With 22 returners and 14 newcomers on their roster, the Eagles have some big shoes to fill. The biggest loss was senior goalkeeper Tiera Como who finished her career with four school records to earn Big Sky Conference Defensive Most Valuable Player honors as a junior and senior.

Finding her replacement will be among the priorities during preseason practices. After redshirting in the 2006 season, Ashley Renz (Walla Walla Community College) will be fighting for the position against freshmen Jessica Blessard (Mount Si HS '07) and Kelly Roark (Curtis Senior HS '07).

Renz earned All-Conference honors both years at WWCC. Blessard was a four-year varsity letter winner in high school, a varsity captain and team most valuable player. Roark was a three-year varsity letter winner and team captain in 2006.

"Ashley and Jessica, along with Kelly, will give us some depth at the position," said head coach George Hageage.

Also back from a redshirt season is defender Cynita Mott. She earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2004. Her sister is senior forward Cyeeta Mott, who has scored eight goals in her Eastern career. Cyeeta Mott earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2004 and 2005.

In all, Hageage will welcome back 15 letter winners, including seven returning starters. His 2004 team shared the BSC regular season title and three of his last five teams have advanced to the four-team Big Sky Tournament.

In this year's poll, Sacramento State was picked first with 40 points and Montana was second with 39. Northern Arizona was picked third, followed by Weber State, Idaho State, Portland State, Northern Colorado and EWU.

Eastern starts its season on the road in the Northern Arizona Tournament on Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, against two teams they have never played. The first opponent is Lamar University out of Beaumont, Texas, followed by Temple University out of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The Eagles return to play their home opener against cross-town rival Gonzaga on Sept. 9. Eastern fell to the Bulldogs in Spokane last season, 3-0. The last time EWU beat GU was in 2002 in Spokane when the Eagles took a 2-1 victory.

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