NAU soccer ends regular season with victory
CHENEY, Wash. -- The Northern Arizona women's soccer team wrapped up its regular- season schedule on the road Sunday against Eastern Washington. All five seniors on NAU's roster started, and with two late goals in the second half, the Lumberjacks defeated the Eagles 2-0 to finish the regular season in second place in the Big Sky with a 7-2 record.
"We had to deal with some wet conditions today, which played into the type of game it was," said NAU coach Andre Luciano. "Eastern Washington was very dangerous, and once we settled down we were able to take control of the game."
After 84 scoreless minutes, Northern Arizona finally got on the scoreboard when sophomore midfielder Cierra Gamble and senior forward Shawnee Morgan applied pressure on Eastern Washington's defense and forced an own goal to put the Lumberjacks up 1-0. Two minutes later, in her final regular-season match, senior midfielder Jordan Stenger was able to place the ball in the left side of the net for second goal of the season.
Gamble ended the road trip with two goals for Northern Arizona, which will take a four-game winning streak into the conference playoffs.
"It was a fantastic way for Jordan to end her regular season at NAU," said Luciano. "Not just Jordan but all of our seniors stepped up, and I am really proud of them."
Both sides were applying heavy pressure on the opposing defenses early in the match, as the teams combined for 21 shots, including nine on goal, in the first 30 minutes of the match. In the first half alone, senior goalkeeper Lauren Weaver had to make five saves to keep the score 0-0 going into halftime.
The offense didn't slow down in the second half, as the Lumberjacks and Eagles combined for 16 more shots. Despite the Eagles recording 18 shots overall, Weaver was able to record her eighth shutout of the season, giving her 19 shutouts for her career.
With the win over Eastern Washington, Luciano now has 100 career victories in 13 seasons at the helm for the Lumberjacks.
"I think it is a reflection of how hard these players have worked," said Luciano. "I love NAU and everything NAU represents, and I am proud to be a part of that."
The Lumberjacks now turn their attention towards the Big Sky playoffs in two weeks, which will take place in Portland, Ore., due to Portland State finishing atop the conference standings.
"We worked for this, and it started last spring with their commitment," said Luciano. "This team turned this program back into a winning program, and they have done that with a winning record and finishing the season second in the conference."