FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Following a season-opening split in Utah, Northern Arizona returns home to host Arizona before a trip to Los Angeles to face Loyola Marymount. Last weekend, the Lumberjacks dropped their season-opener at Utah State before rebounding with a 2-0 shutout at Southern Utah. Sophomore midfielder Lauren Zallis scored both goals against the Thunderbirds and earned the initial Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week award for the 2009 season. Sophomore goalkeeper Natasha Slaughter made five saves against Southern Utah for her first career shutout, and has played 135 scoreless minutes in goal through NAU’s initial contests.
Admission is free for Friday night's contest and plenty of parking will be available at Lumberjack Stadium despite the construction.
The Wildcats make the trip up to Flagstaff with an 0-1 record after dropping their season opener to UC Irvine, 2-1, in Tucson on Sunday. In the loss, sophomore Renae Cuellar scored the lone goal for Arizona while senior goalkeeper Devon Wharf allowed two goals on four shots to take the defeat.
The Wildcats were 9-11 overall in 2008 and just 2-7 in the Pac-10. Cuellar was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team during her rookie season, tying for the team lead with five goals and finishing second on the team with 12 points.
Dan Tobias is in his seventh season at Arizona and has twice been named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. He was also named National Coach of the Year by Soccer America in 2004. The Wildcats were picked to finish last in the Pac-10 in the preseason coaches poll, but are 5-0-0 all time against Northern Arizona.
Scouting Loyola Marymount
LMU begins the week at 1-0-0 after defeating UNLV, 2-0, in Las Vegas last Friday. The Lions play at Cal State Northridge on Thursday before hosting the Lumberjacks on Sunday. In their win over UNLV, Loyola Marymount received goals from freshman Cori McGovern and senior Julie Gallaudet. Senior goalkeeper Allyssa Clark stopped four shots in the victory to record her ninth career shutout.
In 2008, Loyola Marymount went 10-6-3 and 5-2-0 in the West Coast Conference. Gallaudet led the team in goals (5) and points (14) while junior Lily Sorentino posted team-highs in assists (8) and shots (37).
The West Coast Conference coaches picked the Lions to finish fifth in the eight-team league in 2009 after the squad finished third in each of the last two seasons. Northern Arizona has only faced Loyola Marymount once before in program history, a 4-2 loss in Los Angeles on September 7, 1998.
Sophomore midfielder Lauren Zallis scored twice against Southern
Utah last Sunday, leading Northern Arizona to a 2-0 win and earning
Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week Honors. The award was the
first for Zallis, who doubled her career scoring total in Sunday's
Zallis led the Lumberjacks to their first victory of the 2009 season with her effort on Sunday. In the 14th minute in Cedar City, Junior Brenna Boies broke down the left side of the box and sent a strong feed into the goal mouth. Zallis was in position for the redirect, pushing the ball past SUU goalkeeper Charly Booth into the left side of the net.
Less than three minutes later, Zallis struck again. Boies was fouled hard just above the 18-yard box, and Zallis stepped up for the ensuing direct free kick. The sophomore blasted a perfect shot off the bottom of the crossbar, dropping it over the right side of the goal line to give the Lumberjacks an early 2-0 lead.
Zallis earned All-Big Sky Honorable Mention during her 2008 freshman season, playing in all 22 games with 17 starts. She tallied two goals and one assist, and played a season-high 78 minutes against Portland in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
With starting goalkeeper Tori Rocke injured for the Lumberjacks opening road trip, sophomore keeper and Flagstaff High alum Natasha Slaughter has gotten an opportunity to shine. After coming on for the second half against Utah State and starting Sunday’s game at Southern Utah, Slaughter has played 135 minutes of blemish-free goal, including her first-career shutout against the Thunderbirds.
The sophomore made two saves in a scoreless second-half at Utah State last Friday, keeping the Lumberjacks within striking distance after a 2-0 half-time deficit. She got the call to make her second-career start on Sunday in Cedar City, making five stops to record the blank sheet. Through the opening weekend of the season, Slaughter leads the Big Sky in goals against average and save percentage and is second in total saves.
In 2008, Slaughter appeared in three games and started against Washington. She made 10 saves in limited action and allowed four goals. With Rocke hoping to return soon, Slaughter’s time in goal may be limited, but the Flagstaff native is making a strong impression as the last line of defense.
Last Week In Brief
On Friday in Logan, Utah State scored two goals late in the first half and sophomore goalkeeper Molli Merrill recorded her first-career shutout as the Aggies handed Northern Arizona a loss in both teams’ season opener, 2-0.
Utah State got a break in the 32nd minute, when a lob into the
box took a bad bounce and hit the left hand of junior Kristi
Andreassen. Aggie sophomore Summer Tillotson took the ensuing
penalty shot, squeezing it inside the right post past the dive of
Short to give the home team the lead.
The Aggies added on in the 41st minute, as an NAU foul just to
the left of the box led to a Utah State free kick. Sophomore
Danielle Shorts took the set piece, placing it perfectly on the
foot of the oncoming Flanary for a deflection into the top-left of
Utah State dominated the statbook, posting a 13-1 first-half shot advantage en route to a 19-5 shot total overall. Penny Short, making her first-career start in place of injured starter Tori Rocke, made 3 saves while Slaughter stopped 2 shots in a scoreless second half.
On Sunday in Cedar City, Sophomore Lauren Zallis scored twice and sophomore Natasha Slaughter made five saves for her first-career shutout as Northern Arizona defeated Southern Utah, 2-0, on a windy Sunday afternoon in Cedar City.
Slaughter finished with five saves, while NAU outshot the Thunderbirds, 10-9, and had a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks. Zallis totaled three shots for the game, a team-high matched by sophomore Jenna Samora.