FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – On Sunday, the Northern Arizona soccer team will honor its nine graduating seniors prior to its nationally televised regular season finale against Eastern Washington as part of Senior Day at 12 p.m at Lumberjack Stadium. The nine graduating seniors have combined to play a total of 408 games with 230 starts over the last four years, while amassing 52 goals and 40 assists for 144 points.
"This group came in and was the first group to win a championship in terms of recruiting classes," said head coach Andre Luciano. "They've won three championships out of their first three years and have accomplished a lot as a group. They've been a major reason that the culture of our program has changed and they've been an incredibly impactful class as a whole both on and off the field."
When seniors Georgia Foltz and Lauren Zallis and redshirt junior Natasha Slaughter, who will all return to the Lumberjacks in 2012 after suffering season-ending injuries early in the season, are added to this graduating class, the combined experience of the group jumps to 526 games and 330 starts.
Together, the 12 seniors have won a combined 33 conference championships between the program's first two Big Sky Tournament championships in 2008 and 2009 and first-ever Big Sky regular season championship in 2010. Even though last season's senior class was considered "The Foundation," Luciano knows how important this group was in not only the recent success of the program, but also to the success of the 2007 class.
"I think this class was as impactful as the 2007 class," Luciano said. "They came in and gave the 2007 class the necessary pieces to be successful from top to bottom. Without this group, the 2007 class wouldn't have had the same success and vice-versa."
Below, each of the nine graduating seniors reflects on their careers at NAU, accompanied by a quote from Luciano.
#7 Katie Tribbey, F/D, Foothill Ranch, Calif.
Tribbey: "Nothing can ever replace what my time here has meant to me. It helped me grow as a person and made me the person I am and I'm going to miss this tremendously."
Luciano: "Katie has made an impact for us this year. Pound for pound, she's one of the toughest players we have. Despite her size, she packs a punch every time she steps on the pitch. She's had a fantastic senior campaign this year for us."
#9 Jenna Samora, F, Eatonville, Wash.
Samora: "I've seen this program grow a lot and it's forced me to grow. I'm definitely going to remember the team and the girls and the friendships we formed over the last four years with everything we've been through. I've had four different locker rooms since I've been here and to make it to this locker room, it's a final accomplishment to show how far this program has grown during my time here."
Luciano: "Jenna has been one of the most prolific goal scorers in program history. I think the one thing that stands out about her when you compare her to other forwards that have played here is her impact in conference in terms of how many goals she's scored during conference play."
#10 Sam Monahan, M, Tucson, Ariz.
Monahan: "My experience here has taught me to never take anything for granted. I've learned so much about myself because of this team and that's the reason I am the person I am today. I'll never forget this experience."
Luciano: "Sam is one of the greatest players to ever play here. She's one of the best pure soccer players. I've always said that you need a dynamic center midfielder in order for your team to be great, and she's been the only player that I've ever felt that deserved to wear the number 10 jersey."
#16 Chelsea Bednarz, F, Chandler, Ariz.
Bednarz: "My experience at NAU has taught me how to deal with adversity. Personally and as a team, the hard times have helped me grow as a person and that will help prepare me for the future challenges I'll face in the job market with family and everything else life throws at me."
Luciano: "Chelsea has been a bull in a china shop. She's an absolute warrior in terms of how she plays and she has been an awesome addition to our program with her personality, spirit, level of play and passion to win. I've been very appreciative of what she's done in spite of her injury last year."
#25 Noel Guevara, M, Chandler, Ariz.
Guevara: "The biggest thing for me was how close we were as a team. I've done everything with them and especially my class. Our class was so close and we did everything together, and that made this whole experience the best thing ever. It was so great to play soccer and get an education. Soccer has been the biggest thing in my life, so it's been great to play throughout college."
Luciano: "Noel has unfortunately been hampered by injuries throughout her career here. She's probably one of our most tactical players in terms of intelligence. I wish we could've had her healthy over the duration of her four-year career. She's been a good role model and solid contributor to our team."
#27 Ethi Ethridge, M, Los Alamos, N.M.
Ethridge: I always say that our family rides together and we die together. That explains our family aspect here how we always have each other's backs on and off the field. We win together, lose together, train together and be a champion forever together."
Luciano: "Ethi epitomizes everything you want out of a student-athlete. She's passionate about her team and she's always working, giving a hundred percent. She's an extremely giving player and she very rarely is a player that is looking for something in return."
#29 Ally Cwiekowski, M/D, Phoenix, Ariz.
Cwiekowski: "My time here has not just been about becoming a soccer player, but it's made me a more structured and better person being part of a team. Having the weights, the practice, the rigorous schedule has built my time management skills and actually allowed me to get my studies done in a timely manner. I think that will help me more as an overall person and not just a soccer player."
Luciano: "Ally is the quiet warrior. She's grown so much over four years, not only as soccer player, but as a person. She's one our quiet leaders and she's been a big contributor to our team as a senior, both on and off the field."
#30 Ashley Marrapode, M, Naperville, Ill.
Marrapode: "The biggest thing is that I've matured as a person on and off the field. I grew up with my teammates and especially my classmates, the girls I came in with. The most memorable thing for me is every time we left it all out on the field together. Win or lose, we always battled it out together. That competitiveness is something I'll miss the most."
Luciano: "Ashley has been a big reason we've had success the past three years of conference play. She always brings her A-game in October and she's been a significant contributor to our team over the course of her career here."
#99 Kendra Teesdale, GK, Tempe, Ariz.
Teesdale: "'Life is one big road with lots of signs, so when riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live!' by Bob Marley. The past four years, we've been the underdog team and this quote explains it. When things get hard, don't give up. You can't worry about what everyone else is doing, you have to take care of yourself and make your vision a reality."
Luciano: "Kendra is an unsung hero. She always puts in the work and always does the dirty work as a goalkeeper. She had a great understanding of her role on the team, playing behind Tori Rocke, Lauren Weaver and Natasha Slaughter over the course of her career. She's probably one of those players that I'll look over the years and say how appreciated she was as part of this program."
The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Arizona, availabe on digital cable and DirecTV channel 686, Fox College Sports and cable channel 4. The game can also be seen online here.