FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University women's soccer team looks to bounce back at home this Friday (Oct. 14) and Sunday (Oct. 16) after most recently falling to Northern Colorado on the road. With just five games remaining in the regular season, it's crunch time for Head Coach Andre Luciano and his team as they are set to host Montana and Eastern Washington in a jam-packed homecoming and NAU Soccer alumni weekend.
"We always love seeing our alumni back," Luciano said. "They are a huge part of the history of our program and have invested a lot in terms of the success we've had in the past. It's a lot like being a proud father seeing them all again."
The first 200 fans to Friday's (Oct. 14) game – set for 7 p.m. – will receive a free 'gold out' t-shirt. Northern Arizona soccer alumni in attendance will also be recognized at halftime. On Saturday (Oct. 15), there will be an alumni scrimmage open to the public at 1:30 p.m.
-Meghan Dickmann recently made her way into the NAU record books as she now has 96 career saves (10th) with 55 of them coming in 2016.
-As of Oct. 9, junior forward Adrian Nixt is tied for fifth in the country and tied for first in the Big Sky in game-winning goals (5) this season.
-Nixt now has eight career game-winning goals, which is fourth in program history. She is also on the cusp of breaking into NAU's Top 10 in career points (35) and recently cracked the top 10 (tied for ninth) in career goals with 14.
-In NAU all-time individual season records, Nixt is now tied for third in game-winning goals.
-Senior forward Lindsay Doyle is one goal away from cracking the NAU Top 10 in career goals as she now has 11 after notching a goal in three straight games this season.
-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), Shelbie O'Connor (freshman), Carly Gamble (redshirt freshman), Doyle (senior) 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. 14
Time: 7 p.m. MST
The Lumberjacks have not beaten the Griz at home since 2010, but over halfway through the Big Sky campaign in 2016, the two squads match up quite well. Montana enters Friday's (Oct. 14) contest at 6-5-3 overall, matching NAU's 2-2-1 clip in conference action. The Griz return three All-Big Sky selections from 2015 including goalkeeper Kailey Norman – who leads the Big Sky in shutouts – Tess Brenneman and Ashlee Pedersen. This season, Hallie Widner and Madison Adams account for six of Montana's 15 goals with three each. A total of 11 players have scored for the Griz this season.
"With Montana, we have to recognize their strengths," Luciano said. "They don't give up a lot of goals, they're physical, they're good on set pieces and they have some really dynamic players going forward. We have to be really aware of that and capitalize on the opportunities we create."
Date: Sunday, Oct. 16
Time: 12 p.m. MST
Currently on a nine-game unbeaten streak and second in the Big Sky standings, Eastern Washington will bring a handful of offensive weapons to Flagstaff. Behind Idaho, the Eagles as a team are second in the Big Sky in points, goals and assists, while also first in goals allowed and shutouts this season. Chloe Williams plays a large role in the success of the 10-1-2 Eagles. The now all-time EWU career goals leader with 26, the junior forward has nine in 2016 – good for first in the conference. In addition to Williams, the Eagles return four other 2015 All-Big Sky selections.
"Eastern Washington plays with a lot of intensity and physicality," Luciano added. "They're really dangerous on winning balls and countering you. Chloe Williams especially is good at slipping into spaces, so we will have to minimize her touches on the ball."
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.