Soccer looking to build toward the future after spring concludes
The NAU women’s soccer team concluded their spring schedule with a 3-1 loss to the University of Arizona this past Saturday. The spring season produced some key developments among players and has given head coach Andre Luciano much to build on heading into the fall.
“The key to the spring is to identify the players who can get the job done immediately,” Luciano said. “We identified a handful of kids that are going to be able to be impact players for us next season . . . I’m excited about the players who are returning.”
Headlining the returners this spring are sophomore forward Elinor Priest, senior defender Georgia Foltz, sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Weaver, freshman forward Sarah Tarver, sophomore defender Jessica Kettelkamp and freshman defender Diane Buzzard.
Priest led the Lumberjacks in goals this spring with three. Tarver and Kettelkamp both notched one as well.
“What’s going to be really key for me is to stay focused all summer long,” Priest said. “We have a lot of freshmen coming in who are going to be a huge part of our offense next season.”
On the defensive end, Buzzard has led the youth movement in the back four.
“Andre told us at the end of the season, ‘You four are our rock. You have to be our rock for next season or this team is going to struggle,’ Buzzard said. “Honestly. we have to set the tone next year for these newcomers coming in.”
The incoming recruiting class for the Jacks has a heavy dose of offense; eight of the ten future freshman are from the offensive side of the field. The group has amassed a total of 259 goals in their high school careers. The leader in the scoring category is forward Torey Braly, who scored 117 goals in her career. Coach Luciano is bringing in five players from the nearby state of Nevada: midfielder Alexia Gonzalez, forward Cassidy McLean, forward Sarah Pate, forward Haley Wingender and goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson.
Also in the recruiting class is a native of Flagstaff, forward/midfielder Demi Schmeider, who attended Coconino High School.
With a total of four goals returning from this past season, the offensive-minded recruiting looks to fill a void left by graduating seniors Jenna Samora, Chelsea Bednarz and Sam Monahan.
“The second thing about spring is that it allows us to evaluate what we need to do and what kind of system we want to run based on the players we have coming in next year,” Luciano said. “I’m excited about what we can do.”