Eagles Open Big Sky Play

Oct. 7, 2008

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The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team starts its Big Sky Conference schedule this weekend with a pair of contests.

The Eagles will head to Pocatello, Idaho, and play Idaho State at 3 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday (Oct. 9) before returning to Cheney to play host to Weber State at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 12).

Eastern Washington is looking for a fresh start to its campaign after going 2-7-2 during the non-conference portion of the 2008 schedule. The Eagles will draw on some bright spots from the first 11 games, including a championship at the SDSU Invitational and a 1-0 home win over Idaho, heading into Big Sky play.

"We have preached the whole year that the real season is the Big Sky season," head coach George Hageage said. "We have seven games, and our goal is to win at least five of those, knowing that four will probably get you into the tournament.

"Everybody is struggling in the Big Sky right now, so it is going to be which team can find its game first and get on a little run."

Idaho State enters the conference season with a 2-7-3 mark. The Bengals earned their two wins over Utah State, 2-1, and Air Force, 1-0, in ISU's first two games of the season. Last season, the Bengals and Eastern Washington finished just out of the four-team Big Sky Championship, tying for fifth with each other.

"Idaho State will be a good test," Hageage said. "They play on a really small field and have a great home-field advantage. We match up well, so if we bring work rate and passion, we are going to do well."

Weber State enters league play 3-6-2 with its wins coming against North Dakota, 2-0, UTEP, 2-0, and Oregon State, 2-1.

"Weber State will be tough," Hageage said. "They come at you and are a really physical team. Hayley McCoy is probably the best player in the league, and (head coach) Tim Crompton does a great job organizing."

Both Idaho State and Weber State battled to 0-0 double-overtime ties with Gonzaga in their last respective outings.

Lauryn Shoots up Goal-Scoring Charts                 
Lauryn Koelzer stretched her remarkable goal-scoring streak to four straight games with a score in the second half of Eastern Washington's 3-1 loss to Washington State on Friday (Oct. 3).

Combined with a goal earned earlier in the season, Koelzer now has five on the season and is just one shy of the school record set by Cyeeta Mott last season, six.

She is second in the Big Sky Conference in goals per game with 0.45 (five in 11 games) and fourth in points per game with 0.91 (10 in 11 games).

Two of her goals came at clutch times, the winner in a 1-0 win over Idaho on Sept. 26 and the game-tying score in a 2-1 double-overtime loss at Gonzaga on Sept. 28.

The senior is also already tied for second in EWU school history for goals in a season and her career sum of eight (done in less than two years by the Walla Walla Community College transfer) is tied for fourth in that school-record category.

"Lauryn has been working really hard finding gaps and spaces to run through, and all of her goals were basically the same, her working to find gaps," head coach George Hageage said.

EWU First Team To Score in Pullman Since 2007                     
A score by Lauryn Koelzer at the 61:24 mark of Eastern Washington's 3-1 loss on Friday (Oct. 3) at Washington State, a team that entered the NSCAA/adidas Top 25 this week at No. 25, marked the first time WSU had allowed a goal by a visiting player in 397:57.

The goal got Eastern right back in the game, as the Eagles trailed by a narrow 2-1 margin at this point.

That goalless streak dated back to a 2-1 Cougar win over eventual national champions USC on Nov. 11, 2007.

Blessard Leads Big Sky Conference                      
Goalkeeper Jessica Blessard is setting the pace among Big Sky Conference players in save percentage (.878), while she also ranks second in goals against average (1.01) and third in saves per game (6.00).

For her career, she has a goals against average of 0.93, which is on pace to set a school record in that category (Tiera Como, who played at Eastern from 2003-06, is next with 1.44).

Jensen Climbs Goal-Scoring Chart                  
Abby Jensen has scored nine goals in her Eagle career, which is good for third on the Eastern Washington all-time goal-scoring list. She trails Jennie Summers (2002-05), who had 11, and Cyeeta Mott (2004-07), who has the record of 14.

Eagles Win the Title                                           
Eastern Washington played the best soccer of the four teams at the SDSU Invitational, contested from Sept. 12-14, to claim the title. The Eagles defeated the hosts, South Dakota State, by a 2-1 score before tying North Dakota State 1-1. Iowa State was the other team to take part in the competition.

Four Eagles earned All-Tournament accolades, including Jocelyn Bement, Jessica Blessard, Lillian Bourret and Lauryn Koelzer. Bement was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

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 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 her second collegiate game.

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.

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