Aug. 20, 2008
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team gets off to an early start in 2008. The team will have the honor of being EWU's first athletics squad of the 2008-09 school year to kick off its season.
The lid-lifter will see Eastern travel south to take on Boise State at noon Pacific Time on Sunday (Aug. 30).
"We're excited and ready for the season to begin," head coach George Hageage said. "It should be an interesting season for us, seeing how quickly the new players can get blended into the program."
Eastern Washington is devoted to improving on its record-win season of 2007 (9-8-0) and return to the Big Sky Championship for the first time since 2005. The Eagles have 8-of-11 starters and 12-of-17 letterwinners returning from last year's squad intent on improving on that team's impressive season.
Boise State is coming off a 9-7-3 season, its fourth-straight winning record. In Western Athletic Conference play, the Broncos went 5-1-1 to tie for second in the league standings with Fresno State. Boise State was picked fourth of eight squads in the WAC's preseason poll.
"Boise State has probably as many new faces, if not more than we do (BSU has 15 newcomers this year after losing 15 of 22 letterwinners off of last year's squad)," Hageage said. "They have a talented group coming in, as well as a lot of transfers from bigger schools.
"(Head coach) Steve Lucas has done a great job, and they are always very organized. It is going to be a good challenge for us."
The Eastern Washington Eagles are coming off a remarkable season that was the best in school history on many levels.
Most impressively, EWU posted its first winning season (9-8-0) since the inaugural year of the program, 1997. That squad went 5-4-3 against a schedule that included six junior colleges.
The Eagles narrowly missed qualifying for the Big Sky Conference Championship, finishing in a fifth-place tie with a 3-4-0 league mark.
Big Sky Preseason Poll
Despite coming off of its best overall record in school history, tying for fifth in the Big Sky Conference standings and returning 8-of-11 starters from the 2007 team, the Eagles were selected eighth in the league's preseason poll.
Sacramento State, the defending league champion, placed first in the poll with 45 points and five first-place votes. The Hornets were followed, in order, by Northern Colorado (37, 2), Weber State (37, 1), Northern Arizona (31), Portland State (26), Idaho State (24), Montana (14) and Eastern Washington (10).
Playing for a Championship
The Big Sky Conference's regular-season champion will play host to this year's Championship the first week of November. Depending on the host team's preference, the semifinals will be played on either Nov. 6 or 7, and the title contest will take place on either Nov. 8 or 9.
Last year, Sacramento State won the regular-season crown with a 4-0-3 league record and then claimed the tournament championship with 2-1 and 3-0 wins over Portland State and Northern Colorado, respectively.