Long Beach State Win and Records Highlight Soccer Season

Nov. 15, 2006

After an exciting victory over then-ranked #21 Long Beach State on Sept. 22, senior Tiera Como and junior Cyeeta Mott earned Big Sky Conference player of the week honors on their way to All-Big Sky honors and several records to highlight the 2006 soccer season.

The Eagles finished 5-13-1 overall and 1-6-0 in the Big Sky Conference. Though they did win one more game than the previous season, the team failed to make the Big Sky Conference tournament for only the second time in five years.

In the 1-0 overtime victory over Utah Valley State on Sept. 28, senior goalkeeper Como set the Eastern career saves record previously held by Katie Grothkopp in 1999-2002 with 350 saves. Como had 348 going into the game and finished her career at Eastern with 420 saves.

"It's a great accomplishment," said Hageage. "I don't think it's a record that coaches or goalkeepers really like to have, because with the saves it means there are a lot of shots coming her way. Her save percentage is really good so we will take it. She is a dominate keeper and deserves all the records and accolades she can get."

Como also is on top of the Eastern record books in four other categories: career shutouts (12), saves per game (6.36), goals against average (1.44), and wins (14). She also earned seven Big Sky player of the week honors, two first team BSC honors, and two co-defensive player of the year awards in her career at Eastern.

She earned her second-straight co-defensive player of the year award in the Big Sky Conference this season. Six other players earned All-Big Sky honorable mention: defenders Carrie Conners and Kelsey Tufnail; midfielders Abby Jensen and Cat Baller; and offensive players Mott and Shelly Ikerd.

Como was one of eight seniors the Eagles said goodbye to on this year's team. Other seniors included: Baller, Caitlin Braun, Gwen Burgess, Kai Gregersen, Jennifer McMullen, Kim Robinson, and Tufnail. "All of the seniors have worked very hard the last few years and are all student-athletes" said Hageage. "Obviously Tiera Como has stood out in this class but everyone has contributed over these past four years."

The seniors have earned eight total Big Sky All-Academic honors prior to this season. Como will earn her fourth-straight Big Sky All-Academic award when the team is announced Jan. 15, 2007. Kelsey Tufnail and Jen McMullen have each won this award twice previously.

Mott broke into the Eastern record books with the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over then ranked #21 Long Beach State on Sept. 22, her fourth in her career as an Eagle, which put her tied for the school record. Mott currently ranks second in goals (8), third in points (19), and sixth in assists (3).

For their performances against Long Beach State and Utah Valley State, Como and Mott earned Big Sky Player of the Week honors on Sept. 27. Como was named the defensive player of the week for the seventh time in her career. Mott earned her second offensive player of the week honor.

"Long Beach was definitely the highlight of the season," said Hageage. "Obviously this was a huge win for our program. It is anytime you beat a team that is in the Top 25 and it was the first time we have ever done it. It was a special time, not only for our soccer players but for Eastern. We were really pleased with our efforts."

"Cyeeta started to come on early in the season," said Hageage. "She was getting back off of her knee injury that she suffered in the spring and the first two and a half weeks she had been playing really well. It is great to see her named Big Sky player of the week. It is amazing how many times in her career Tiera has been nominated. It is great for her, she deserves it."

Throughout the season, the Eagles were atop the BSC standings in saves. They ended the season on top averaging 8.15 saves per game. In the final statistical standings, Melissa Guthrie was tenth in goals per game (0.25) and tied for tenth in goals with four with Ikerd. Como ended the year ranked first in saves (152) and saves per game (8.00), fifth in save percentage (.813), tied for fifth in shutouts (2), ninth in shutouts per game (0.11) and tenth in the conference for goals against average (1.85).

Ten different Eagles scored at least one goal on the 2006 season, led by Guthrie and Ikerd with four each. There were 11 different players who each had one assist on the season.

The Eagles lost their first three matches of the season on the road, as they were shutout at Northern Illinois (4-0), DePaul (2-0) and Gonzaga (3-0). Eastern then came back to earn its first of five wins on the season, beating Birmingham-Southern 4-2 on Sept. 3.

At USC on Sept. 15, the Eagles held the then ranked #17 Trojans to two goals in a loss. "I thought we did extremely well," said head coach George Hageage. "We knew it was going to be a tough week. We had a good game plan and executed it well, and I thought we did really well against a team that is very, very dangerous."

Against Oregon on Sept. 17, the Eagles fell 1-0. "We had that game against Oregon," said Hageage. "Oregon is a really tough team and they clamped down on us but we had control in the second half."

Their only Big Sky Conference win of the season came in the opener against league newcomer Northern Colorado Oct. 6, as the Eagles shut-out the Bears 2-0. Eastern then lost the remainder of its conference games to Northern Arizona 3-1, Portland State 1-0, Sacramento State 2-1, Weber State 1-0, Big Sky Conference Champions Idaho State 5-1, and Montana 1-0.

"Our goal was to make the Big Sky Conference Tournament, so we didn't get to where we wanted to," added Hageage.

Other Comments from Head Coach George Hageage:

"This year was sort of the re-building year. Next year I think we are going to be a more improved team. Fitness is going to be huge. We are not going to make the same mistakes. We are still going to be fairly young, but all of the sophomores and freshmen that played this year have one year under their belt and know what to expect. A big part of our team is next year's juniors and sophomores, so we should be in really good shape."

"Ashley Renz redshirted this year so we have two years with her. She is working with Tamara incredibly hard at this point. We already have a commitment for another goalkeeper, possibly two but one for sure. So we are looking forward to it, I think it's going to be a good year."

"Fitness will be a big focus on the off-season. Technical skills are huge as well, but the stretch where we lost to Boise State, tied Reno and beat Long Beach State showed we could play with anybody. I am not so worried about that, I am worried about the fitness level and making sure we don't get too tired on the field."

"I was really proud of the players. It started off a little rocky and then we pulled it together in the middle of the season. We did some wonderful things against teams that traditionally we have a hard time beating or playing against."

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