Extra Time: Jacks soccer on the road for final time in conference
By Chris Albas-Martin
The Northern Arizona University(NAU) Lumberjacks soccer team were held to two scoreless draws over the weekend to leave them just outside the championship qualification places in the Big Sky standings.
Junior goalkeeper Lauren Weaver made a career-high 12 saves in the game against Portland State and then followed it up with a another 10 saves against Sacramento State to earn her the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week. The Jacks now head out on the road for the final time in conference to play two teams at opposite ends of the table.
NAU travels to Grand Forks to face off against the University of North Dakota (0–5 Big Sky Conference). North Dakota has lost every single conference game this season, and their last victory of the season came on Sept. 7 against South Dakota State University. This will be the Jacks’ first meeting with UND and NAU will be looking to get off to a good start as they push for a spot in the end of season tournament.
The Jacks’ second opponent will prove to be a more difficult task. The University of Northern Colorado Bears (3–1–1 BSC) started the conference well and were the early Big Sky leaders. However, the Bears have stuttered a bit recently, picking up only one point this past weekend to drop down in the table to third.
Despite the dip in form, UNC’s soccer team has been given a national ranking after being predicted to make the 64-team national tournament and will provide stern opposition for the Jacks. NAU can cling on to the fact that they have an even all-time record with the Bears 4–4–0. The last meeting between the two ended with a 2–0 victory for Northern Colorado in Greeley and the Jacks have not beaten the Bears away from home, so head coach Andre Luciano has the chance to make history if the team can get a win there.
With the final two games of the conference season being at the Lumberjack Stadium, NAU will be looking for at least four points on the road this weekend before they head back home to play in two crunch time games to decide whether or not they will make the end of season tournament. If the Jacks can remain unbeaten this weekend, then secure good results the following weekend, NAU will be ensured of a place in the final four.