Wildcats jump into Big Sky Conference soccer action

Sep 20 2012 - 4:43pm

CHENEY, Wash. - The season begins in earnest for the Weber State University women's soccer team this weekend.

After nine matches to prepare, the Wildcats open up their Big Sky Conference slate on Friday afternoon against Eastern Washington.

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. at the EWU Sports & Recreation Field.

"I think we've been playing well on the field; we're improving and coming together," said freshman forward Mackenzie Harrison, who has two goals and five total points. "We are creating chances, we just need to keep working hard and finish our opportunities."

After struggling to score early in the season, Weber State has eight goals in its past five matches and has consistently possessed the ball and created opportunities in all of its matches to-date.

"We've played well enough to get results during the non-conference season, but we didn't get them," Weber State coach Tim Crompton said. "We are playing good soccer; we just need to clean some things up on set pieces. We've given up some pretty easy goals, and that's what we've been working in practice is to stop giving up those kind of goals."

Harrison and fellow freshman Chansi Crompton each lead the Wildcats with five points. Crompton has a team-high three assists, and scored her first collegiate goal against Nevada last weekend. Harrison and sophomore Mackenzie Day each have two goals.

The Wildcats finished their travel-heavy non-conference slate at 2-7-0, claiming a home win over Utah Valley and a road win over New Mexico State. Weber State's non-conference schedule included the only nationally-ranked team played by a member of the Big Sky this year, with the Wildcats falling 1-0 at then No. 5 Oklahoma State on Aug. 19.

Sophomore's Ryley Hansen and Abbey Kennedy, along with freshman Stacy Bair each have a goal this season, as six different Wildcats have found the back of the net so far. Senior Ari Aki has two assists.

Harrison leads Weber State in both shots (25) and shots on goal (13), followed by Crompton's nine, while Day and Hansen each have eight.

The Wildcats were picked fourth in the preseason coaches poll, while the Eagles were picked eighth. Weber State leads the series with Eastern Washington 11-5-0, but the Eagles have won three straight in the series. Last season in Ogden, the Wildcats outshot EWU 25-7 (14-5 on frame) in a 3-0 loss.

Eastern Washington (3-4-1) comes into Friday's matchup with a three-match winning streak after an 0-4-1 start to the season.

On Sunday, Weber State will shift its attention to defending Big Sky  tournament champion Montana as the Wildcats will trek to Missoula, Mont., to take on the Grizzlies. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at South Campus Stadium, and the match will be televised live on Big Sky TV.

Montana, which defeated Weber State on penalty kicks in last season's conference championship match, is 4-4-1 coming into the weekend and takes on Idaho State on Friday, prior to meeting the Wildcats.

Weber State and Montana are the two all-time winningest programs in Big Sky history, with Weber State recording 56 conference wins, followed by Montana's 52. The Wildcats and Grizzlies have combined for seven postseason tournament titles and nine regular season championships.

After this weekend's road trip, the Wildcats return home for three straight conference matches against Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Idaho State.

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