FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – On Sunday, the Northern Arizona soccer team will host Arizona, its second in-state Pac-12 rival of the weekend, at 12 p.m. at Lumberjack Stadium in a televised match that will air live locally and both regionally and nationally on a tape-delayed basis. The Lumberjacks (0-2) will shoot for a different result after falling 4-0 to Arizona State Friday night in front of a stadium record attendance of 2,207.
"I thought for 75-80 percent of (Friday's) game, we were competitive," said head coach Andre Luciano. "We're still making critical mistakes and that has to be fixed, but I thought we competed up until the 82nd minute of the game and I was happy to see that."
The Lumberjacks played the Sun Devils tough in the first half and were down just a goal heading into halftime. But Arizona State put its second goal of the game on the scoreboard early in the second half and later added two late goals in the final 10 minutes of the game to provide the final margin.
Still, despite the Sun Devils owning a 30-9 shot advantage in the game, freshman Natalie Gilbertson had a solid game in goal, making a career-high 10 saves in her second game of her career. Freshman Nicole Sherwin totaled a team-high three shots including a pair of near-misses, one on a free kick just outside the box and another that grazed the crossbar.
"I take some positives out of the game," Luciano said. "Once again Natalie Gilbertson played a fantastic game for us and I thought Georgia Foltz did a great job covering a very difficult player in Cali Farquharson. But their athleticism just got the best of us at the end of the game."
While the Lumberjacks are in search of their first win of the season, so are the Wildcats who enter Sunday's game winless in their first two games. The Wildcats dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to No. 18 Long Beach State on the road last weekend and then lost on Thursday at home to BYU, 1-0.
Jazmin Ponce is Arizona's leading striker with a team-best 12 shots and also has the team's only goal this season. Ponce recorded seven of the team's nine shots against Long Beach State and followed that with a five-shot performance against BYU. Ana-Mara Montoya, fresh off a Summer Olympics performance as part of the Columbia women's soccer team, is second on the team with five shots attempted. Gabby Kaufman is in her first season as the Wildcats goalkeeper after transferring from Texas Tech and has made 10 saves through the first two games.
"They've had two close games against Long Beach and BYU, so it seems like they're getting into a rhythm offensively," Luciano said. "Most important is that they have an extra day of rest since they played BYU on Thursday, so for us it's going to be important for us to weather their fresh legs in the first 15 minutes of the game and then try to be a little more creative going forward as a group."
Sherwin and freshman Haley Wingender each have four shots through the first two games to lead NAU. Gilbertson, who became the ninth goalkeeper in school history to record double-digit saves in a single game, has notched 16 saves thus far in two starts in goal.
Sunday's game will be Hawaiian Day at Lumberjack Stadium with the first 500 fans set to receive free leis. All NAU students receive free admission to all home Lumberjack events. Reserved single game tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors, youth (12 years old & under), and NAU Faculty/Staff, while general admission tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, youth and NAU Faculty/Staff.
The game will be televised live beginning at 12 p.m. on Suddenlink Channel 4 and 104 as well as online. The game will be shown on Fox Sports Arizona twice in the week, Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m. Fox College Sports Pacific will also run the game on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m.