Weaver records 22 saves, NAU soccer knots weekend games
By Chris Albas-Martin and Raymond Reid
While the Northern Arizona University (NAU) women’s soccer team may have finished its weekend contests without scoring a goal, junior goalie Lauren Weaver had a career weekend and moved to No. 4 on the all-time saves list with 201.
Weaver tallied 22 saves, a career high 12 against Portland State University and 10 against Sac State, with the Sac State game marking her third shutout in four games.
The women played out their second consecutive 0–0 match of the weekend against the Hornets on Sunday, Oct. 7.
“I thought you could tell [Sacramento State's] older players have played with each other for a long time, and they are a good possession orientated team,” head coach Andre Luciano said. “I was happy we did not get beaten in behind with their quickness, and we just have to do a better job of slowing the game down. Sometimes we are a little bit too direct.”
In a game where clear cut chances were few and far between, the Jacks’ offense was stifled by a stubborn Hornets defense. Despite Sacramento State dominating possession in the first half, the Jacks had the best chance to take the lead after just six minutes.
The ball fell at the feet of junior midfielder Jordan Stenger, following a poor clearance by Hornets goalkeeper Shelby Tomasello, but her shot sailed just over the crossbar.
“It could have been disastrous,” Luciano said. “We could have given up six points to two different teams, but instead we gave up two points but we only took two at the end of it.”
The Jacks’ defense stood firm through the game with Weaver, only being tested from long-range, and NAU conjured up the best chance of the half. A long clearance from the defense wreaked havoc on the Hornets’ defense and freshman forward Demi Schmieder was allowed to race in behind the back line, but the ball would not bounce kindly for her and Sacramento managed to clear the danger.
The second half followed the same trend as the first, with Sacramento again dominating possession and NAU creating the clearest opportunity of the half when the ball broke nicely for sophomore midfielder Savannah Berry, but she blazed her shot over the goal from just inside the area. With the scores level at the end of regulation time, the Jacks entered overtime for the second instance in as many games.
Sacramento State created the best opportunities of extra time, and the game could have been over inside the 30 seconds of the restart when the Hornets’ Alyssa Anderson latched on to a through ball, only to see her shot saved by the on-rushing Weaver. Despite being outshot, the Jacks held on to finish the weekend unbeaten and move their record to 4–6–4 overall and 2–1–2 in the Big Sky Conference (BSC).
“We are okay with this,” Luciano said. “We have got to sort out a few things and we have had a lot of injuries this year, and every weekend is like a mystery and we need to figure out who we are going to have healthy.”
The NAU women’s soccer team opened the weekend home by welcoming Portland State University into Max Spillsbury Field for a BSC showdown. The Vikings were coming to Flagstaff holding nine points in conference play, just one win ahead of the Lumberjacks who entered in fifth place with six points.
With both squads nearing the ten point mark in conference play, the teams would need to pick up points in order to keep pace and finish in the top four of the standings to move on to the BSC tournament held on the home pitch of the regular season champion. Less than five points separate the top six teams, meaning any one of them could vault themselves into the top spot.
Against the Vikings, defense was again the key.
Weaver made the start and anchored the defense through the double overtime match, posting a career-high in saves with 12. Weaver also entered stratified air on Friday night, becoming only the sixth Lumberjack to notch 12 or more saves in a contest.
Schmeider, who has found her offensive aggressiveness in the last few games, led the Jacks offense with four shots on goal, her last flying just wide of the goal in the final seconds of the second overtime period.
The Jacks head out on the road for the last time in conference next week as they face North Dakota on Friday and North Colorado on Sunday, and they will hope to go into the last games of the BSC season at the Lumberjack Stadium with a fighting chance of making the tournament.