FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University women's soccer team will be back in action after a week to prepare for two Big Sky opponents in the University of North Dakota on Friday, Oct. 7 and University of Northern Colorado on Sunday, Oct. 9. The Lumberjacks, now 1-1-1 in conference and 4-6-2 overall following the loss at Weber State, now prepare for their second and third straight road games of Big Sky campaign before returning home to face Montana and league-leading Eastern Washington the weekend of Oct. 14-16.
"We have to come into these two games knowing both of these teams are vicious opponents," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "Every game counts. If we come out and respect the game and what each game means, then we should be able to bounce back and play up to our potential."
*Dickmann recently made her way into the NAU record books as she now has 90 career saves (9th) with 49 of them coming in 2016.
*As of Oct. 3, junior forward Adrian Nixt is tied for ninth in the country and tied for first in the Big Sky in game-winning goals (4) this season.
*Nixt now has seven career game-winning goals, which is tied for fourth in program history. She is also on the cusp of breaking into NAU's Top 10 in career points (33) and recently cracked the top 10 (tied for ninth) in career goals with 13.
*Nine different Lumberjacks have scored for NAU this season: Mei-Te Coco (sophomore), Malia Lyken (freshman), Anna Goebel (junior), Amanda Bennett (freshman), Riley Porter (junior), Lindsay Doyle (senior), Shelbie O'Connor (freshman), Carly Gamble (redshirt freshman) and Nixt (junior).
*Dating back to 1997, NAU is 17-21-43 in overtime games. The highest number of overtime games in a single season came in 2011 with nine. This year, the Lumberjacks have had four overtime games, posting a 2-0-2 record compared to last season's 1-2-4 overtime record.
*Northern Arizona has never won more than two overtime games in a season. The last time the 'Jacks won two overtime games was in 2014.
Date: Friday, Oct. 7
Time: 2 p.m. MST
North Dakota, despite just one win on the season and a 0-3 clip in the Big Sky, returns nine of its 11 starters from the 2015 campaign and 87 percent of its offensive production. Defensively, the Fighting Hawks return sophomore goalkeeper Olivia Swenson, who was an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention selection last season, but freshman Catherine Klein has seen more time in 2016 recording 67 saves through eight games played. The Fighting Hawks have four goals on the season – with four different players scoring – but Katie Moller is leading the team in shot attempts with 27. North Dakota's last win came over South Dakota on Aug. 21 in double overtime.
"The hardest part about the Big Sky is that every team knows they have a chance in the first half of the season to qualify in the top six," Luciano said. "It's a dog fight; teams that didn't do well the previous year have an opportunity to qualify for the conference tournament."
Date: Sunday, Oct. 9
Time: 11 a.m. MST
Currently ninth in the standings, the reigning Big Sky champions are 6-5-1 on the year and 1-2 in conference play. The Bears notched their first conference win over Weber State, who NAU most recently lost to, but are coming off back-to-back losses at Idaho and Idaho State. Offensively, UNC is led by Mariel Gutierrez, who has five goals and two assists this season, and Brooke Braden with four goals and one assist for nine points. In goal for the Bears is Madeline Burdick, who is tied for fourth in the Big Sky in save percentage at .800. On Sunday (Oct. 9), UNC will look to stay perfect at home.
"I don't think we can go into the Big Sky and take any opponent lightly," Luciano noted. "Every team defends their home turf really, really well. Every team has their strengths and their weaknesses, and if you don't pay attention, you will get bit."
It's no secret that the 'Jacks graduated a bulk of their starters including four All-Big Sky selections from 2015. But with change, comes new opportunity. With seniors like Dani Muniz and Lindsay Doyle, as well as redshirt junior Missy Kettelkamp, there still is no shortage of experience for NAU.
Muniz appeared in all 19 games last season at defender while Doyle appeared in 18. At forward, Doyle strung together a solid junior season scoring four goals – tied for second on the team with Adrian Nixt – and two assists for 10 points. Kettelkamp, too, brings a strong mix of experience to the table after proving in 2015 she can defend and put the ball in the back of the net.
Given that 26 players of NAU's 36-player roster are underclassmen, the growth ahead is inevitable. With 15 freshmen aboard the Lumberjack train – 12 newcomers and three redshirts – Luciano and his squad are bound and determined to use what's in front of them as an advantage. Without any one, star player to rely on, Luciano summed up his expectations for this year's team in one word: united.