Lumberjacks net win in Big Sky opener, spoil Southern Utah conference debut
By Raymond Reid
This past Friday, the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Lumberjacks women’s soccer team welcomed the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah University at Lumberjack Stadium for their Big Sky Conference home opener and sent the Thunderbirds home with a loss, taking the match 1–0.
The Jacks, coming off of their most complete performances of the season against Florida Gulf Coast University and San Jose State University, aimed to come out and set the tone early in their conference opener.
Through the first half, the Jacks out-shot Southern Utah 10–6. Leading the charge offensively was freshman forward Haley Wingender, who placed two shots on goal in the beginning minutes of the contest.
“I know we came out and all we wanted to do was win for ourselves, for Georgia [Foltz],” Wingender said. “There’s nothing to lose, all we can do is come out and prove ourselves. We came out aggressive, we wanted to shoot and get the first goal and we did.”
Playing perhaps their most aggressive game of the season, the Lumberjacks were staunch on defense, only allowing six shots on goal out of the 14 attempted, all saved by junior goalkeeper Lauren Weaver, who finished with six saves for the night.
All season long, head coach Andre Luciano has preached playing aggressive and under control to his team. There have been stretches of play seen in games, but in the tenth game of the season, the Jacks have found their rhythm.
“The key is that they deserve the win,” Luciano stated. “Coaches take blame for the losses; the players take credit for the win. They worked hard for this. It’s a fun group to work with.”
At the start of the second half, the Jacks turned up the pressure and capitalized. The aggressiveness was evident in the corner kick disparity with the Lumberjacks taking eight to Southern Utah’s one.
In the 50th minute, Wingender shot was deflected across the middle to fellow freshman forward Demi Schmeider, who shot the ball across the box into the net for her first career goal.
“I was excited it went in,” Schmeider said. “It felt fantastic. Since I’ve been a part of so many goals, I felt it was my turn. This was our first game where we came out and played for each other.”
Schmeider, a native of Flagstaff, was able to score her first career goal at home in front of her family and friends. She is the third Lumberjack in the last three games to score her first career goal.
With their sights set on the conference tournament, coach Luciano and the Jacks have themselves in a good position heading forward.
The next action for the NAU women’s soccer team will be this weekend in a road trip facing Weber State in Ogden, Utah this Friday, September 28th followed by Idaho State this Sunday in Pocatello, Idaho on September 30th.