COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Northern Arizona soccer team returns to the road in search of their first win of the season, with games against two teams from power conferences this weekend. The Lumberjacks (0-4-0) first stop in Columbia, Mo. to play Missouri (3-1-0) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. before traveling to Lincoln, Neb. to face Nebraska (0-2-1) on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
"We're going to go in there to get wins," said head coach Andre Luciano. "We have to have the mentality that we're not playing to get a tie or playing not to lose. From this point forward, every game we play makes us a game older. The most important thing is that we continue to grow. We're playing Big 10 and Big 12 opponents in a weekend and not too many teams in our conference try to do that."
The Lumberjacks will try to rebound off a weekend where they lost two matches in overtime. Senior Sam Monahan scored her first two goals of the season last weekend against Drake and Northern Iowa. Freshman Sarah Tarver also recorded her second goal of her young career against Northern Iowa. Monahan and Tarver are the only two Lumberjacks to score thus far this season.
Despite only four goals in their first four games, the Lumberjacks have not lacked scoring opportunities. NAU has attempted 50 shots as a team this season, with seniors Chelsea Bednarz and Jenna Samora leading the way with 11 and 10 shots respectively. The Lumberjacks got off 40 shots alone in its two matches last weekend.
Missouri dropped its season opener to San Diego, but has since won three straight games, including a 1-0 victory over previously No. 7 Ohio State last weekend. The Tigers, currently tied for fourth in the NSCAA Central Regional Rankings, have received balanced scoring so far this season with seven different players netting goals. Sophomores Alyssa Diggs, Danielle Nottingham and Dominique Richardson have recorded two goals each, with Nottingham posting a team-high five points through the first four games this season.
"We have to be prepared for a very in-your-face type of game against Missouri," Luciano said. "They're extremely physical and very athletic and we have to be mentally prepared for that. They've scored a lot of goals this year against some good opponents and it's going to be a tough game."
Nebraska, is winless so far in 2011, their first season as a member of the Big 10, but poses a serious offensive threat in juniors Morgan Marlborough and Jordan Jackson, two All-Big 12 first team selections a year ago. Marlborough, a two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and a second team NSCAA All-American, has followed up her 2010 season which she ranked in the top-five in the nation in points and goals, with a team-leading two goals and 12 shots this season. Jackson has one goal this season, after recording 12 goals and nine assists last season, second on the team in both categories to Marlborough.
"Nebraska is very well coached," Luciano said. "They have one of the country's premier strikers in Marlborough and she's complemented by Jackson up top. We also know they play a very hard pressing backline. I expect they're going to be very disciplined and fit."
NAU has never faced Missouri or Nebraska before. Live stats will be available for both games and a live stream of Friday's game against Missouri is available through http://www.mutigers.com/allaccess/ for a charge.