CEDAR CITY, Utah – Freshman Sarah Tarver scored her first career goal to tie the game at 1-1, but Southern Utah connected on two late goals to hand the Northern Arizona soccer team their second loss of the season, 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Soccer Field. The Lumberjacks dropped to 0-2-0 to begin the new season, while the Thunderbirds improved to 1-1-0.
"The biggest thing about this year is that we have so many new players having to step up and play," said head coach Andre Luciano. "It's going to take us some time to get going into a positive direction. We've got some good young players with plenty of potential, but we just haven't gotten into a rhythm."
After attempting just one shot in its season opening loss to Arizona State, the Lumberjacks got on the attack early, with seniors Chelsea Bednarz and Jenna Samora both getting shots off in the game's first 11 minutes. Southern Utah would strike first and take a 1-0 halftime lead on sophomore Sabrina Hernandez's first goal of the season in the 39th minute.
Three minutes into the second half, senior Katie Tribbey would find Tarver on a cross, which Tarver then headed into the net in the 48th minute for the Lumberjacks' first score of the season.
"Katie got the ball wide and she passed a beautiful ball right in front of the keeper," Tarver said. "I slipped in and got the header. It was a really good feeling. We were trying to go wide and cross the ball in and that's what she did."
Both teams traded shots in the following 20-plus minutes, including two Thunderbird attempts in a minute span that were saved by junior Natasha Slaughter. But junior Missy Lazcano would head in the eventual game-winning goal in the 72nd minute off a cross on a free kick by junior Morgan Bridge.
The Lumberjacks quickly tried to find the equalizer in the coming minutes, but sophomore Shawnee Morgan's shot was saved in the 78th minute and senior Sam Monahan's shot hit the crossbar in three minutes later. Southern Utah senior Riley Bassett tacked on the game's final goal in the 89th minute off an assist by senior Elyse Osborne, her second of the game.
"Give Southern Utah credit," Luciano said. "They fought really hard, stuck to a good gameplan and put us under a lot of pressure early. I think we played with a little more urgency than we did against ASU. We're just not quite there yet physically and mentally."
Morgan led the Lumberjacks with two shots, both on goal, but as a team Southern Utah outshot NAU 14-9. Slaughter made her first start of the season and made three saves, while giving up the three goals.
The Lumberjacks open up the brand new Lumberjack Stadium with the Mortenson Mountain Classic starting this Friday against Drake at 7 p.m. Along with Drake, Southern Utah and Northern Iowa will join NAU in the four-team tournament.