FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Northern Arizona soccer team outshot its opponent for the second straight game, putting up a season-high 17 shots Sunday en route to a 1-0 shutout win over San Jose State in the Lumberjacks’ final nonconference match before opening Big Sky play.
NAU posted its second shutout of the season and improved to 2-5-2 heading into Friday’s conference opener against Southern Utah.
“We’re still learning how to win, and this was a good, positive step for us to go 1-0-1 over the weekend,” said head coach Andre Luciano. “Wins are always important, but when you look at our nine games that we’ve played pre-conference, those were all games to prepare us for the conference season; there haven’t been any soft games. I hope we can come out on Friday, carry out the energy we had today and get another W.”
The Lumberjacks came out aggressive from the start, outshooting the Spartans 5-1 in the first 25 minutes of the game, with sophomore Savannah Berry totaling three of the five NAU attempts. NAU continued the attack through the first half, with a late pair of headers by senior Laura Johnson and junior Elinor Priest having to be turned aside by the San Jose State goalkeeper to keep things scoreless.
After the Spartans’ Kacey Gricius fired the opening kickoff on net to begin the second half, the Lumberjacks struck for the only goal of the game in the 57th minute. Freshman Demi Schmieder controlled the ball in the corner and sent a cross into the box to Malia Tano, who buried it for her first career goal. Schmieder’s assist was her team-leading third of the season.
“Demi got the ball, and I was wide open in front of the goal,” Tano said. “I kind of hesitated, had a lot of thoughts going through my mind, but I just ripped it and it went in, and it was the best feeling ever. I was just so happy for our team because we really needed this win. We have a lot of confidence now.”
The score held at 1-0 for the remainder of the game, but not without an offensive flurry from both teams. In the final 10 minutes, the two teams combined to put up nine shots, with the Lumberjacks recording six shot attempts — four of which were on goal — as they tried to add an insurance goal to put the game away.
After being outshot in each of its first seven games, NAU held the shot advantage for the second time this weekend. Eleven of the team’s season-high 17 shots were on goal, and San Jose State was limited to just nine attempts.
Berry led the team with five shot attempts, two coming on goal. In total, the Lumberjacks had five players post multiple shot attempts, with Priest, Tano, sophomore Sarah Tarver and junior Shawnee Morgan all recording two to go along with Berry’s five. Freshman Natalie Gilbertson got the start in goal and notched three saves before yielding to junior Lauren Weaver, with the NAU goalkeeping duo combining for the shutout.
“Everybody had to step up and play today,” Luciano said. “I thought Malia came in and gave us great energy up top, held the ball for us for good stretches and scored a good, composed goal, which is something we’ve lacked. Then we buckled down at the end of the game to win.”