FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team snapped its three-match scoreless streak to open the season last weekend and earned a split at the UNLV Rebel Classic. After defeating Florida Atlantic for their first victory of the season and a hard-fought loss to Oklahoma, the Lumberjacks (1-4) head to northern California for a pair of games this weekend at San Francisco on Friday and at UC Davis on Sunday.
"I look for us to be a little more organized defensively in the defensive third of the field and for us to continue to put pressure on teams and create opportunities toward goal," said head coach Andre Luciano. "I thought in our last two games we did a much better job of creating chances going forward and we hope to continue that before we come back for a nice home swing."
Last weekend, freshmen Haley Wingender and Cierra Gamble scored their first career goals in NAU's 2-0 win over Florida Atlantic, while sophomore Sarah Tarver tallied her first goal since the fourth game last season in the Lumberjacks' 3-1 loss to Oklahoma. Freshman Demi Schmieder recorded assists on two of the three NAU goals and sophomore Savannah Berry notched the assist on the other.
As a team, the Lumberjacks doubled their season total in shots in their two games last weekend. Against Florida Atlantic and Oklahoma, NAU tallied 23 shots after 23 combined shots in their first three games. In all, the Lumberjacks recorded team season-highs in shots, shots on goal, points, goals and assists last weekend. NAU continues to do an exceptional job of placing shots on goal this season, with 24 of its 46 shots on goal for a .522 clip.
Individually, Schmieder enters the week tied for third in the Big Sky with two assists, while freshman Natalie Gilbertson is tied for first in saves with 30 and second in saves per game at 6.00.
San Francisco is 2-2-2 this season after handing fellow Big Sky member Sacramento State a 4-1 defeat and then losing 3-0 to No. 17 California. Both of the Dons' victories this season have come at home as they're 2-0-1 at their home facility. Mackenzie Krieser has been USF's top striker this season as she leads the team with three goals and six points. A West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team selection in 2011, Krieser scored the game-tying and eventual game-winning goal over Sacramento State last week. She also leads the team in shots with 24 and shots on goal with nine.
"USF is going to be a strong, physical and pretty direct team," Luciano said. "Mackenzie Krieser is a key player for them. She loves to go towards the goal, so we have to do a good job of containing her."
UC Davis enters the week unbeaten, sporting a 3-0-1 record this season following a 3-1 victory over San Jose State last week. The Aggies are led by Ashley Edwards, who has a team-high three goals and six points. Edwards is among five players on the team that has registered at least eight shots thus far with Allison Kelly, an All-Big West Honorable Mention selection a year ago, pacing the Aggies with 12 shots. UC Davis has been exceptional on the defensive side of the pitch, allowing just three goals in four games with Taylor Jern and her 0.69 goals against average and .850 save percentage in goal.
"UC Davis is traditionally a very strong Big West Conference team," Luciano said. "They don't give up much defensively and they have a good attacking trio up top, so we have to do a good job of containing their three forwards and creating some offensive chances for ourselves."
This will be the second all-time meetings, but first on the road, for NAU with both San Francisco and UC Davis. The Lumberjacks defeated the Dons, 1-0, in 2010 and lost to the Aggies, 2-1, in 2005 with both games at Lumberjack Stadium.
A free video and audio stream of Friday's game at USF will be available here. Live stats will also be available for both games. NAU will play at USF at 7 p.m. on Friday and at UC Davis at 1 p.m. on Sunday.