FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team will host Montana on Sunday at 11 a.m. for its final conference game of the season. The Lumberjacks are coming off their third consecutive 0-0 tie at home on Friday versus Eastern Washington. With the tie and other results within the conference on Friday, NAU (5-7-5 overall, 3-2-3 BSC) was eliminated from contention for the Big Sky Conference tournament, but can deny the Grizzlies from moving up in the standings.
"I hope that we can rebound from our emotional setback and come out get a win and end the conference season with 15 points," said head coach Andre Luciano. "Montana has all 11 starters back from last season and they're going to be an extremely difficult opponent. Our goal is to pick up three points and deny them of three."
The Lumberjacks pitched their third consecutive home shutout and sixth of the conference season on Friday, keeping off the Eagles off the scoreboard. NAU could not find the back of the net though despite a 16-10 advantage in shots, including a 13-4 advantage after the first half. Junior Lauren Weaver notched her seventh overall shutout, sixth solo, of the season and made four saves on Friday. NAU also did a great job of corralling Eastern Washington's Cassie Black, the conference's second-leading scorer, to just three shots in the game.
Montana will bring in another solid goal-scorer in Erin Craig, who led the Big Sky in goals last season. Craig leads the Grizzlies this year as well with six goals, four assists and 16 points. She also leads the conference with 62 shots with an average of 3.65 shots per game. In goal, Kristen Hoon has a 0.93 goals against average and has recorded nine total shutouts, seven of the solo variety.
The Grizzlies clinched a spot in the conference tournament via their 1-0 victory over Southern Utah on Friday and has recorded four consecutive shutouts. With a win on Sunday, Montana can clinch a share of the Big Sky regular season championship and at the very least will be the third-seed in the conference tournament.
The Lumberjacks are 5-12-1 all-time against the Grizzlies. NAU fell to Montana last season in Missoula, 1-0, but had won the previous two meetings, both at home. All five of the Lumberjacks' victories over the Grizzlies have come at home, most recently in 2010 when they won 5-0.