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Eastern to host top teams

Attention Eastern sports fans: two very important games pitting the Eastern Eagles against some of the top Division III teams in the nation will be taking place on our home turf.

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 29, the women’s volleyball team will be playing against the defending national champions and current number one team in the nation, Juniata. About a week later at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, Messiah, the number three team in the nation, will battle against the women’s soccer team.

With such high caliber teams on Eastern’s campus, these teams will need as much fan support as they can get.

Sept. 29: Volleyball vs. #1 Juniata, 7 p.m.

In past years, volleyball has been Eastern’s golden team in the wide world of sports, having won 10 straight PAC titles and reaching the NCAA sweet 16 several times.

However, there is one team that has Eastern’s number: Juniata College. Every year, Eastern is knocked out of the NCAA tournament by Juniata. Even though they are not in the PAC, and boast a 12-1 record against the Eagles, Juniata continues to come down to Eastern because the teams always have intense matches.

“Ultimately, our goal in playing a top-ranked team like Juniata is to gain valuable experience that our young players can use as we progress throughout the season and into the future,” Head Coach Mark Birtwistle said. “Last year we created an exciting, competitive atmosphere and a large part of that was the support of our Eastern fans.”

The players themselves hope to do their best against Juniata’s team and have high expectations for the match. “It’s great that they want to come down to our gym and play us,” junior tri-captain Mandy Platt said. “Hopefully, everyone will come out so it will be a high-energy game.”

Oct. 9: Women’s Soccer vs. #3 Messiah, 3:30 p.m.

On the other end of the spectrum, the women’s soccer team is nothing to sniff at. They have always been a strong team, holding their own against some of the best teams in the conference. The game against Messiah College, although not in the PAC, is a big test to see how the team can do against a top-notch program.

“It’s a really big game for us against a nationally ranked opponent,” Head Coach Dan Mouw said. “We need to keep our focus and keep getting better, and if we do, it should be a very good game.”

“We’re really excited to play them,” junior goalkeeper Amanda Daveler said. “Practices prior to that game, we’ll probably all set a higher standard for ourselves and push each other to play harder. The fact that it is a home game just makes it better. The team has been ready to play this game ever since we found out we were playing them last year.”

So, there you have it. All Eastern sports fans should be sure to be at the field and gym, wearing their maroon and white, and cheering on those girls as they play these important games.

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