EWU soccer’s record-setting season ends in Big Sky playoffs with loss to Sac State

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

One of the best seasons in program history came to a sudden halt on Nov. 5 for the EWU women’s soccer team, losing 3-1 to the Sacramento State Hornets. The loss in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Soccer Championships put an end to a season that saw the team record 12 victories, the most in Eagles history.

Seeded third coming into the tournament, the Eagles narrowly missed out on the second seed and with it a first-round bye. Instead the Eagles were pitted against the Hornets, a team they beat 3-1 in Cheney early in conference play on Oct. 2.

The Eagles commanded play in the opening minutes of the match, but it was the Hornets who found the back of the net early on, with Jennifer Lum connecting on a ball off a cross from Kayla Collins in the ninth minute of the match. Lum buried the ball in the lower left corner of the net, beating the Eagles’ keeper Mallory Taylor.

The Hornets took the 1-0 lead into the half, even with the Eagles out-shooting them 10-6 in the first 45 minutes. “I thought we started well, but we let in a bad goal and it took some air out of us,” said head coach Chad Bodnar. “We needed to be able to respond to that better than we did.”

It took the Hornets just two minutes to double their lead in the second half, with Collins putting away a cross for a goal in the 47th minute, with Adaurie Dayak assisting on the play. It wasn’t until the 78th minute that the Eagles were able to break through for a goal, with forward Devan Talley burying her third goal of the season just outside the penalty box off a pass from forward Chloe Williams.

The Eagles sacrificed defense for offense trying to find a last-minute goal to send the game to overtime, and Collins capitalized in the 87th minute, scoring an unassisted goal to put a nail in the coffin on the Eagles’ season.

“Our team played hard, and we had a lot of chances, but the ball just wasn’t bouncing our way today,” said Bodnar. “Credit to Sacramento State, who played very hard. We were unable to break them down.”

The Eagles end the 2015 campaign with a 12-4-3 record, with six of those wins coming in conference play — a program record. The Eagles’ 34 goals of the season were also a school best and the team won every match it played in September, going 6-0 with five of those matches being played on the road.

“We’re disappointed because we expected more from ourselves after having had such a good regular season, but I’m proud of our players for the year they had,” said Bodnar. “We’re going to keep improving and getting better. The expectations for this program have changed in just two short years, and we don’t expect to just qualify for the conference tournament and be satisfied.”