Seniors propel soccer to sixth in BSC
By Raymond Reid
With Big Sky Soccer Championship aspirations hanging in the balance, NAU soccer entered the weekend determined to improve their record and Big Sky ranking.
NAU entered this weekend sitting at 7th place in the Big Sky Conference (BSC) rankings and fresh off a conference loss to Northern Colorado 2–0.
“We’ve got to look at every game and take each one one at a time,” said head coach Andre Luciano, about the remaining Big Sky games on the schedule needed to make the postseason.
The Lumberjacks ended the weekend against Weber State with a 1–1 tie. The Wildcats were outplayed by the Lumberjacks through the first half, being out-shot 10–2
Senior forward Jenna Samora led the way with four attempts on the goal, but nothing was getting past the WSU goalie. In the 59th minute, WSU midfielder Emily Freshman passed to forward Sarah Mager, who put the ball in the back of the net to break the stalemate and give the Wildcats the 1–0 lead.
The Lumberjacks were held off offensively for most of the second half. In the 75th minute, freshman defender Dianne Buzzard passed to senior midfielder Sam Monahan. Monahan dribbled the ball through traffic into the goalie box and found the back of the net for the sixth time this season. The game tying goal was the only shot attempt by the Lumberjacks in the second half.
This game marked the seventh overtime game for the Jacks, setting a new school record
The Lumberjacks played two overtimes against the Wildcats, with a close call being all that kept the score from going in the Wildcats favor. Sophomore goalie Lauren Weaver came out of the goalie box to deflect a deep pass in the first overtime and the ball made its way behind Weaver and rolled out of bounds, just right of the net, keeping the tie intact.
“I tried to stay composed,” Weaver said. “Obviously I was a little scared, but I felt like my defender had it covered behind me and I was right there.”
Weaver has been a beacon of consistency since capturing the starting goalie spot earlier in the season; recording 62 saves in the net.
“It’s made me more comfortable,” Weaver said. “I know that everyone trusts me [that is] in front of me and that’s really what matters.”
On Oct. 7th, the Lumberjacks took on the Idaho State Bengals. The match was dominated by the play of the Lumberjacks’ seniors. Most notably, senior forward Chelsea Bednarz’s ruthless and aggressive play all over the field set the tone for the Jacks.
“I think it’s a good intimidation factor,” Bednarz said. “I’ll run through you at any cause or for any reason, but it helps a lot to get in their head and look into their eyes and say ‘I’m coming at you all game long.’”
The Bengals felt that tone throughout the entire game. The first score came off of a pass from forward Rachel Strawn to midfielder Ashley Jones in the 16th minute to give the Bengals the early lead. That score would hold until the second half when Bednarz crossed the ball into the center of the field and Samora scored the tying goal in the 61st minute.
The Lumberjacks quickly saw the momentum disappear when the pair of Strawn and Jones struck again for the Bengals in the 64th minute to regain the lead. Less than 30 seconds later, senior midfielder Noel Guevara scored her first career goal off of an assist by Monahan, who moved within four assists of the career record at NAU. The ball was initially deflected by the goalie but the shot went off of her hand and into the net to tie the game at two a piece.
The resilience of the Lumberjacks continued to be on display throughout the half when sophomore midfielder Jennifer Beaudoin centered the ball to Monahan in the 83rd minute, and put the finishing touches on the NAU comeback, setting the score at 3–2, giving the Jacks their second victory of the season.