Lumberjacks drop pair of matches against in-state rivals
By Raymond Reid
The opening weekend of home action for the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Lumberjacks women’s soccer team produced a clash of the three top teams in Arizona. The Lumberjacks opened the weekend with the Sun Devils of Arizona State University (ASU) Friday night and followed that with the Wildcats of Arizona on Sunday afternoon.
Through the first three games of the 2012 season, the Lumberjacks have yet to crack the score column, dropping 4–0 to the Sun Devils and 3–0 to Arizona. Head coach Andre Luciano has always believed in scheduling difficult matches to begin the season and the Lumberjacks are definitely being tested by their difficult pre-conference schedule.
“We just need to take the negatives that happened and change those to positives,” said sophomore midfielder Savannah Berry. “We can’t put our head down; we have to keep our chin high and come out hard.”
Sunday, against Arizona, both teams took the field under cloudy, thunderous conditions. The scoreless beginning was broken in the eighth minute by Susana Melendez off of a header against junior goalie Lauren Weaver.
The next two goals in the game were delivered from free kicks by junior Ana-Maria Montoya, who played for Columbia in the 2012 London Olympics. Her goals were in the 42nd and 48th minutes.
“I was disappointed because I felt we were mentally soft this game,” Luciano said. “I thought all three goals were soft goals, specifically the first two. After the second goal, we had a mental letdown. You can see our youth right now because we don’t have the same bite [as] our older team.”
The Jacks were outshot 24–9 in the game and were tentative at times.
Freshmen forward Demi Schmeider and defender Maya Huffman, both from Flagstaff, had the opportunity to play in front of their family and hometown crowd.
“I would definitely say it gets you really riled up for the game; you get a lot of adrenaline going” Schmeider said.
The youth of this year’s team is going through a baptism by fire of sorts. The talent is deep for this team, experience and learning how to translate teachings into actions are the main points of struggle for the Jacks so far this season.
Friday night against ASU, the crowd was record-setting and the energy was coursing through Lumberjack Stadium as the anticipation mounted. The Jacks came out hard and played with a sense of urgency.
The Sun Devils attack just became too much.
They out shot the Lumberjacks 30–9 in the game and scored in the 16th minute off of a corner kick that was headed into the net. The next three goals in the 47th, 84th and 88th minute were all unassisted.
Forwards Devin Marshall and Cali Farquharson both tallied two goals each for the Sun Devils.
“We have to take a good, hard look in the mirror and figure out who we want to be,” Luciano said. “We have to figure out what kind of mettle we have . . . we didn’t put our bodies on the line as much as we should have . . . we need a really deep gut check to figure out if they’re willing to pay the price physically and mentally to get a win.”
The Jacks next action will be this weekend in Las Vegas at the UNLV Rebel Classic against Florida Atlantic University this Friday, Aug. 31, then the University of Oklahoma on Sept. 2.