EWU Opens Home Slate With CSUB

Sept. 2, 2008

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After playing its first three games of the 2008 season away from the friendly confines of the Eastern Washington University campus, the EWU soccer team will play its first home game of 2008 on Friday (Sept. 5) in a 4 p.m. contest versus Cal State Bakersfield.

"The home opener is always big for us and always elicits a huge response from our players," head coach George Hageage said. "Cal State Bakersfield was here last year, and we know they are going to be a tough opponent. They do a good job clamping down defensively in the midfield and have a strong defense. If we can make another improvement over our Texas State game, we'll be in good shape."

The Eagles (0-2-1) will close out its weekend action with a recently-added game to its schedule, against Missouri on Sunday (Sept. 7). That game will take place in Berkeley, Calif., and begins at 10 a.m. The Tigers are ranked 22nd nationally by Top Drawer Soccer.

"It will a tough challenge for us against Missouri," Hageage said. "We always like to play ranked opponents if possible because our players can really see how fast the game can be. They are quick and move the ball around fast, which forces us to figure out how to move the ball quicker. It's an advantage to play these teams because it can set you up well against other opponents on your schedule."

The Roadrunners are 2-2-0 on the season, while the Tigers are 1-1-0 and will play California the day before taking on the Eagles.

Eastern coming off a tie and a loss over the weekend, as the Eagles tied Louisiana-Lafayette 1-1 and fell to Texas State 2-0.

April Scores Goal on First Collegiate Shot
            
Midfielder April Coffin could not have gotten her collegiate career off to a better start, as the freshman scored a goal on her first-ever shot.

In the 31st minute of Eastern's 1-1 tie with Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday (Aug. 29), she blocked a clearing attempt, chased down the loose ball and tapped it into the empty net to give EWU a 1-0 advantage.

The goal came in just the second collegiate game.

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.

The winner earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Championship, which will commence on Nov. 14.

2007 Recap                         
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 2007 Eagles narrowly missed qualifying for the Big Sky Conference Championship, finishing in a fifth-place tie with a 3-4-0 league mark.

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