Big Sky soccer opens with even results

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Mackenzie Ford

Sophomore forward Taylor Matheny sends in a pass in the Eagles 3-2 win over Portland State. Matheny played on the same high school team as sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Winston.

By Jeremy Burnham, Managing Editor

Big Sky Conference soccer has started, and after a weekend that saw all but two teams play a pair of contests, EWU joined several others in splitting its first two matches.

Idaho (2-0) and Northern Colorado (1-0) are the only two teams to escape the weekend with a perfect record.

Northern Arizona and Weber State each opened with a win and a draw, while EWU, Sacramento State and Idaho State each opened with a win and a loss.

Montana played only one game, which it lost, and Portland State and Southern Utah each opened with two losses.

These results aren’t very surprising when looking at the teams’ nonconference records. The exception to this is Idaho. The Vandals finished nonconference play 3-5-1, but find themselves in first place after the BSC opening weekend. Losses to Pac 12 teams Oregon and Washington State could help explain this.

The Eagles entered BSC play with a 4-3-2 record, despite averaging less than a goal per game. EWU head coach Chad Bodnar said the Eagles were ready to put their nonconference scoring troubles behind them.

“We played a lot of [young] kids in that non-league portion of the schedule,” Bodnar said before the weekend.

True freshman defender Colby Wilson is one of the young players who received a lot of playing time, starting every nonconference game. Wilson said before the conference opener that she knew BSC play would bring a new challenge.

“Our season has been a little up and down,” Wilson said. “We’ve had some really good things, and we’ve had some things we want to get better at. I feel that collectively we’re getting better. We’re hitting the point where we’re ready to go into conference.”

Wilson also started both conference games, and figures to see a lot of playing time moving forward.

EWU’s scoring struggles continued on Friday when it opened conference play with a 1-0 loss against Sac State at home. It was the second straight shutout the team suffered.

“We’re not good enough right now,” Bodnar said after the loss.

On Sunday, EWU ended its scoring drought at 262 minutes and scored three goals in 15 minutes in a 3-2 victory over PSU. EWU senior Jenny Chavez said it felt good to get that first BSC win.

Mackenzie Ford
Senior midfielder Jenny Chavez celebrates her goal against Portland State. Chavez scored in her first match back from a red card ban.

“The game plan was to not reflect too much on that loss, but learn from our mistakes and move forward,” Chavez said. That’s what we did, we scored three goals today. This is a good win for our team.”

The Eagles were picked to win the BSC in the preseason coaches’ poll. Their defense, which has already produced four shutouts and is allowing one goal per game, is playing well enough to do that. With the three-goal performance on Sunday, they are now also averaging one GPG. The rest of the season could likely depend on the offensive side of the ball.

It was a good win, that was our whole thing this week. Get that win and fight until the end, and I think that’s what we did.”

— Jennny Chavez, Senior midfielder

EWU continues BSC play at Montana on Sept. 28. Montana is 0-1 in the BSC and 1-6-2 overall. The Grizzlies are also struggling to score; through nine games, they only have four goals, and have not scored more than one goal in a game this season.

The Eagles will then head to Northern Colorado on Sept. 30 and Idaho on Oct. 7. They don’t return home until they play their final two home games of the season on Oct. 12 and 14.•