The Big Sky Conference postseason tournament will be held in the Inland Northwest.
Idaho and Eastern Washington made sure of that last weekend with convincing wins that left them 1-2 in the standings with just one match left.
The defending regular-season champion Vandals (9-4-4, 6-1-2 Big Sky) are in the driver’s seat after a 4-0 win over Utah State that left them a game ahead of the field.
Eastern (11-3-3, 5-2-2) still has a chance to host next week’s tournament, but need to beat visiting Montana on Friday and hope the Vandals lose to Idaho State. If that happens, the Eagles would hold the tiebreaker thanks to a 2-1 win over Idaho on Sept. 25.
Sacramento State also is 5-2-2 in the conference, but lost to both Idaho and Eastern and thus can’t host the tournament.
The Eagles are in the mix after a 6-1 win at North Dakota that set a trio of school records. The six goals were a new high for the program, as well as the 15 corner kicks.
EWU led the Fighting Hawks by five goals, a larger mark than its previous season-high of goals scored in a game. That five-goal lead is tied for the largest in school history.
“We have been in a bit of a rut the last few games and it was great to see our group respond,” said Eastern coach Chad Bodnar, whose club was coming off a 3-2 loss at Northern Colorado.
The Eagles showed superb ball movement and involved their players in every facet of scoring. An assist was recorded on all six goals, and five different players scored goals with seven different players recording a point.
Forward Chloe Williams scored two goals and an assist, improving her season total to 13 goals, five assists, and 31 points. In her career, she has 30 goals and 77 points.
Cougars playing for seniors
Washington State won’t be playing in the postseason, but still has a lot to play for with three home matches to end the season.
The Cougars are 6-9-1 overall and 1-7 in the Pac-12 after losing twice at nationally-ranked USC (3-0) and UCLA (2-1).
The latter match appeared to be heading for overtime, but UCLA’s Gabby Miranda beat WSU goalkeeper Ella Dederick to the upper-left corner for a 2-1 win.
“We were doing everything to stay in the game, but she just had a great shot,” said WSU coach Todd Shulenberger, whose team outshot the eighth-ranked Bruins 14-9. The Bruins have four American national players. “We have none – that’s not an excuse, it’s reality,” WSU coach Todd Shulenberger said.
After eight conference matches, WSU ranks second in shots, but has just four goals to show for it. The Cougars also rank last in assists, with three.
Next up is Thursday night’s match against Oregon State. If the Cougars win season-enders against OSU, Oregon and Washington, they could still finish at .500 overall for the season.
Landmark win for GU women
The Gonzaga women made some history Sunday, scoring, three goals in 11 minutes to complete a 4-3 overtime comeback over visiting Pacific on Senior Day.
“What a win for our seniors,” Gonzaga coach Amy Edwards said. “It was such a gutsy and gritty performance.”
The Zags (6-7-2, 2-4-0) trailed 3-1 in the 80th minute, before making the furious rally.
It’s the first time GU has rallied from a two-goal deficit for a win since beating San Francisco, 3-2, after trailing 2-0, on Nov. 2, 2014. It was also the Bulldogs’ first overtime win since defeating North Texas in double overtime 2-1 on Sept. 19, 2014.
Kelly Bieraugel struck the ball into the net just 57 seconds into the first overtime period for the win.
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