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Soccer notes: Zags wear pink to battle cancer

Wed., Oct. 6, 2010, midnight

The pink jerseys Gonzaga University’s women’s soccer team will wear during Sunday’s 1 p.m. West Coast Conference opener against the visiting Portland Pilots will say a lot about how the team feels about the ongoing fight to find a cure for cancer.

But it won’t say it all.

“Basically, the game is kind of an avenue to raise breast cancer awareness and show support for all the families dealing with not only breast cancer, but all types of cancer,” said Amy Edwards, the Bulldogs’ second-year head coach. “We’re super excited to wear the pink.”

Adding to GU’s drive to promote cancer awareness is the fact that one of Edwards’ players, senior midfielder and captain Catherine Cullen, lost her father to cancer two years ago. Another, junior forward Emma Dolcetti, recently learned that her father has been diagnosed with cancer.

“I think wearing the pink will be extra special for those two, because I believe this is the first time the women’s soccer program has done something like this,” Edwards said. “And, really, while breast cancer seems to get most of the attention with the pink, we want to show our support for the fight to cure all kinds of cancer.”

Cullen, who has a goal and three assists for the Zags (5-7-1) this fall, will make her 14th start of the year against Portland (12-1-0), which comes in ranked No. 2 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25 poll.

Dolcetti suffered a season-ending knee injury in GU’s season-opening win over Utah, but will be wearing her pink game jersey on the sidelines Sunday.

“Both Cat and Emma are very strong young women, and very resilient,” Edwards said. “And another thing is that we have a lot of support within our soccer team and the Gonzaga soccer family that they’ve been able to lean on to get through this.”

Cougars on a roll

As Matt Potter is quick to point out, “It never feels bad to win.”

That’s why Washington State’s seventh-year head coach likes the karma surrounding his team as it prepares to open Pacific-10 Conference play at home with matches against Arizona State on Friday and Arizona on Sunday.

The Cougars (5-6-0), who opened the season ranked 21st by the NSCAA, struggled early in the year, losing five of six matches during one stretch.

But in their last three, they have outscored their opponents 8-0, giving Potter cause of optimism heading into what should be another brutal Pac-10 schedule.

“I’m very encouraged by our play of late,” Potter said. “We’re on a three-game winning streak, we’re scoring goals and we’re not letting in goals, so, as a coach, you couldn’t be happier.”

Eastern Washington University will open Big Sky Conference play Friday with a road match against Portland State, and the Eagles (0-9-1) will do so without a win so far.

That’s a first for EWU in its 11 seasons under head coach George Hageage, but it is far from an indictment against the Eagles’ postseason chances.

“When you look at the wins and losses of the teams around the conference, you realize we are not at all behind,” Hageage said. “Most Big Sky teams have had similar results against opponents we share, and we feel our overall preseason schedule was certainly one of the toughest in the league.”

Corner kicks

By virtue of the goal she scored in Eastern Washington’s 2-1 overtime loss to Gonzaga on Sunday, Brittany Sparks, a senior forward, became the Eagles’ all-time leading goal scorer with 15. … The Whitworth men’s 1-0 win over Willamette on Sunday was their 16th in a row against the Bearcats. … Eight of Whitworth’s women’s matches have been decided by a single goal, with the Pirates having won five of those.

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