Soccer gears up for 2018 with new-look team

Sixteen recruits signed, four spring games set for back-to-back BSC champs


Senior forward Jenny Chavez during a home game in 2017. Chavez is one of the main returners for the Eagles, who lost 10 players to graduation | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

The EWU women’s soccer team will look a whole lot different next season.

Sixteen incoming freshmen will be looking to make their mark for an Eagle team that lost 10 players to graduation. Those seniors represented 20 goals and 21 assists for the Big Sky Conference champions last year.

The Eagles announced the lineup of freshmen at signing day on Feb. 7.

Among the seniors leaving is the BSC all-time leader in points and goals, Chloe Williams. Williams had 12 goals and three assists last season, capping off a decorated career at EWU.

Leading the returning Eagles is forward Jenny Chavez, who will be a senior during the 2018 season. Chavez had eight goals and 16 points for the Eagles. Joining Chaves are fellow double-digit scoring forwards Devan Talley, Allison Raniere and Alexis Stephenson.

EWU’s new freshmen include players from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona and California.

Offensively, the freshmen are led by forward Annabelle Hall from White River High School in the South Puget Sound League. Hall scored 114 goals over four seasons, and was the SPSL MVP in both 2016 and 2017.

“Annabelle is a proven goalscorer that we think can develop into something special here at EWU in our style of play,” EWU head coach Chad Bodnar said. “She’s very good inside the 18-yard box and a good finisher. Her accolades in high school speak for themselves and we like her athleticism.”

Among the new mid-fielders is Ariana Escobedo from Wenatchee High School. Escobedo was a three-time Columbia Basin Big 9 First Team All-Conference selection.

“Ariana is a fantastic person with a very high work ethic,” said Bodnar. “She passes the ball well and plays extremely hard on both sides of the ball. We think she will come in and add to the culture we are trying to build here as a program moving forward.”

Vanessa Jones, from Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, California, leads the new defenders. Jones was on all-conference team all four years of high school, and was the 2018 defensive player of the year.

“Vanessa is a tough tackling ball winner that has played at some of the highest levels in the country,” said Bodnar. “Her physical presence and defensive ability was something that caught our eye early on. We look forward to seeing her grow within our program.”

The 16 freshmen will join 17 returning players in the fall. Coaches and fans will get their first look at the returning players in April. EWU recently announced a spring schedule of four games, including a home game against Central Washington on April 28.

Two of the spring matchups will be against Pac-12 teams, including the University of Washington on April 22 and Oregon State University on May 5. Rounding out the slate will be a game against Western Oregon University on May 6.

“I think the spring schedule is a good mix for our group,” said Bodnar. “We have a smaller roster this spring and we have scheduled accordingly […] We will have an opportunity to get our players a lot of minutes this spring to continue to develop as a group and individuals.”