Chavez kicks EWU back into gear

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Chavez kicks EWU back into gear

Chavez leaps on a cross against Weber State on Oct. 12. Chavez scored in each of the Eagles last three games

Chavez leaps on a cross against Weber State on Oct. 12. Chavez scored in each of the Eagles last three games

Mckenzie Ford

Chavez leaps on a cross against Weber State on Oct. 12. Chavez scored in each of the Eagles last three games

Mckenzie Ford

Mckenzie Ford

Chavez leaps on a cross against Weber State on Oct. 12. Chavez scored in each of the Eagles last three games

By Jeremy Burnham, Managing Editor

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When the EWU soccer team enters the Big Sky Conference championship tournament on Wednesday, it will do so on a three-game win streak, the team’s only win streak of the season.

Senior forward Jenny Chavez is a big reason the Eagles finished strong. She scored the game-winning goals in EWU’s final two games of the season.

Chavez entered the season as EWU’s highest scoring returning player from 2017. Last season, she had a career-high eight goals—good for No. 2 on the team behind EWU’s all-time leading scorer Chloe Williams. She was the second leading scorer behind Williams in her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.

This season, with Williams graduated, Chavez struggled to produce offense early on. Through the first 15 games of the season, she notched just two goals. She ended the season by scoring in EWU’s final three games, including game winners at Northern Arizona and Southern Utah to clinch a postseason spot. She now leads the Eagles with five goals.

Mckenzie Ford
Chavez heads the ball against Portland State on Sept. 23. Chavez had a goal and an assist against the Vikings.

The finish earned Chavez the BSC offensive player of the week award for the conference’s final week of regular season play. She, however, is quick to deflect any credit for her strong play.

“I would definitely say the credit goes to my teammates,” Chavez said. “Their effort and them believing that we can still win this.”

EWU coach Chad Bodnar said her play doesn’t surprise him.

“Jenny is Jenny,” Bodnar said. “She was banged up to start the season. She had to get shots and do things to try to keep her back healthy. Her back is feeling better now. What Jenny’s done reflects the whole team. We stumbled early trying to get everyone healthy, and now we’re getting to where everyone is healthy. She’s always going to be good in the air, everyone in the conference knows that.”

Chavez has 22 career goals for the Eagles. She came to EWU in 2015, Bodnar’s second season. In many ways, 2015 was the turnaround season for the team. In 2013, EWU finished 3-15. Bodnar was hired the next season and the team improved to 8-9, before improving to 12-4-3 in 2014.

As a freshman, Chavez finished with four goals.

In 2016, EWU won its first of back-to-back BSC championships. The Eagles finished the regular season in fifth place, but swept the tournament to win the title. Chavez added five goals to help the Eagles.

Last year the Eagles won both the tournament and the regular season championships. Chavez had a big goal in EWU’s 2-1 victory over Portland State in the semi-final round of the tournament.

Now, Chavez enters her final weekend of play as an Eagle.

“It went by fast,” Chavez said. “You blink and you’re a senior.”

EWU will open tournament play against Northern Colorado on Oct. 31 at 11 a.m. EWU beat UNC in the championship game last year. This year, the Eagles fell to UNC 3-1 on Sept. 30.

“We’re a different team now than when we played [UNC] a couple of weeks ago,” Bodnar said.

The tournament appearance will be the fifth straight for EWU.

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