Soccer is a sport where the ball changes possession more often than the Oregon Ducks football team changes their uniforms.
It’s hard to imagine home-field advantage working in the usual sense, as a motivator for the defense.
Soccer’s big defensive stands happen so rapidly there’s barely enough time for one person to bellow DE-FENSE, much less a whole crowd – in unison.
For the average American sports fan, soccer seems to lack the natural moments to scream your guts out.
There aren’t any third and longs, or two strikes on the third out in the bottom of the ninth.
Soccer fans rowdiness is mostly aimed toward the offense, when the home team is attacking a third of the field. Game stoppages are few and fans take advantage of them when they can.
“At Montana, every time they took a corner kick the fans were yelling like it was kickoff at a football game,” Eastern soccer coach George Hageage said. “They scored a lot of points off of corner kicks.” So do fans at a soccer game really make that big of a difference?
“Yes, huge,” Hageage said. “Take Northern Arizona, for example. The fact that they have tons of fans, and the altitude is so high (7,000 feet). Those fans are on you the whole time. They really make you feel the altitude.”
Eastern’s home field so far hasn’t measured up to some of the rowdier places in the Big Sky.
The Eagles have been averaging 200 fans, as compared to places like Northern Arizona, which bring in up to 1,000.
It’s not that Eastern lacks a fan base, but more a question of lacking facilities.
Eastern’s games are currently played on the Sports and Recreation Center’s practice fields.
There isn’t a lot of seating, and a chain link fence obstructs part of the view.
During afternoon games the sun shines directly into the eyes of the spectators.
One idea is to move the games to Woodward Field, but there is the problem of wear and tear on the grass.
“They’re talking about getting field-turf at Woodward,” Hageage said, “which would give us a venue. I think it is more a matter of not having a venue than a lack of interest.”
This year the Eagles have a record of 4-3-1 at home and are 5-10-1 overall, including a record of 1-3-0 in the Big Sky Conference.