FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team outshot its opponent for the second straight game, putting up a season-high 17 shots on Sunday, in its 1-0 shutout victory of San Jose State at Lumberjack Stadium in its final non-conference tune-up before opening the conference season this week. The Lumberjacks posted their second shutout of the season as they improved to 2-5-2 moving forward to Friday's conference opener against Southern Utah.
"We're still learning how to win and this was a good positive step for us to go 1-0-1 over the weekend," said head coach Andre Luciano. "Wins are always important, but when you look at our nine games that we've played pre-conference, those were all games to prepare us for the conference season; there haven't been any soft games. I hope we can come out on Friday, carry out the energy we had today and get another W."
The Lumberjacks came out aggressive from the start, outshooting the Spartans 5-1 in the first 25 minutes of the game with sophomore Savannah Berry totaling three of the five NAU attempts. NAU would end the half the way it started on the attack, including a pair of headers by senior Laura Johnson and junior Elinor Priest that were ultimately stopped by the San Jose State goalkeeper. However, despite NAU controlling the possession and tempo of the game for the majority of the opening stanza, the teams entered halftime in a scoreless battle.
After the Spartans' Kacey Gricius fired the opening kickoff straight towards goal to begin the second half, the Lumberjacks struck for the only goal of the game in the 57th minute. On the game-winning scoring play, freshman Demi Schmieder took the ball in the corner and sent a cross in the box to redshirt Malia Tano, who finished the ball for her first career goal. Schmieder's assist was her team-leading third of the season.
"Demi got the ball and I was wide open in front of the goal," Tano said. "I kind of hesitated, had a lot of thoughts going through my mind, but I just ripped it and it went in and it was the best feeling ever. I was just so happy for our team because we really needed this win. We have a lot of confidence now."
The score would hold at 1-0 for the remainder of the game, but not without an offensive flurry from both teams. In the final 10 minutes, the two teams combined to put up nine shots, with NAU recording six shot attempts – four of which came on goal – as they tried to add on an insurance goal to put the game away.
After being outshot in each of their first seven games, the Lumberjacks held the shot advantage for the second time this weekend. Eleven of their season-high 17 shots were on goal, while they limited the Spartans to just nine attempts. They also recorded six corner kicks in the game which set a season-high as well.
Berry led the team with five shot attempts, two coming on goal. In total, the Lumberjacks had five players post multiple shot attempts with Priest, Tano, sophomore Sarah Tarver and junior Shawnee Morgan all recording two each to go along with Berry's five. Freshman Natalie Gilbertson got the start in goal and notched three saves before yielding to junior Lauren Weaver as the NAU goalkeeping duo combined for the shutout.
"Everybody had to step up and play today," Luciano said. "I thought Malia came in and gave us great energy up top, held the ball for us for good stretches and scored a good, composed goal which is something we've lacked. Then we buckled down at the end of the game to win."
The Lumberjacks open up the conference portion of the season on Friday when Southern Utah, one of two new Big Sky soccer members this season, visits Lumberjack Stadium. Game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.