FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With a win over the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team this afternoon, Oct. 16, Eastern Washington would have claimed sole possession of first place in the Big Sky standings. Not only did Head Coach Andre Luciano and the Lumberjacks hand the Eagles their first conference loss of the season and just second loss on the year, but they also broke EWU's impressive 10-game unbeaten streak. By a final score of 3-1, NAU moves to 6-7-3 overall including a 3-2-2 clip in the Big Sky. Eastern Washington drops to 10-2-3 overall and 4-1-2 in the Big Sky.
"I think our team was really mentally focused today in terms of trying to deny their key player Chloe Williams, who is a fantastic player," Luciano said. "We knew we wanted to play a certain way today. We had to use our bench and they stepped up in some really key moments. It's a team effort and a team sport. It was just a great, gutsy performance today."
Eastern Washington may have gotten a clean look at goal to start the afternoon in Lumberjack Stadium in the 10th minute of action, but it was all NAU from that point forward. Junior Adrian Nixt was the next to attempt a shot, but it wasn't until the 23rd minute she gave the 'Jacks a promising 1-0 lead. Freshman forward Heather Donais – now with a team-high five assists – set Nixt up for the score off a corner kick. With one more assist this season, Donais will crack NAU's Top 10 assists in a single season column.
As for Nixt, she still wasn't finished after one goal. She rang home her second goal of the afternoon to put the game away in the 89th minute off an assist from redshirt junior defender Missy Kettelkamp. The Portland, Ore. native now has eight goals and 17 points on the year, moving her career totals to 45 points and 19 goals. In NAU's all-time career points and goals standings, Nixt has worked her way up to a tie for sixth in career goals and a tie for eighth in career points.
"We knew we had to win today in order to keep our season alive," Nixt said. "It was a tough loss against them last year, so we knew we wanted to come out on the other side today. Everyone was prepared and we were able to get it all done together."
After Williams, Eastern Washington's all-time leading goal scorer, notched the equalizer in the 77th minute, it was senior forward Ali Lixandru who answered next for the Lumberjacks. Her goal in the 79th minute came off a pass from Lindsay Doyle, who now has eight points on the season behind Nixt. This was Lixandru's first goal of the 2016 campaign and second of her career.
The Eagles ended up out-shooting the Lumberjacks 13-9, yet NAU was more efficient in their attempts – a factor that has vastly improved from the beginning of the season. Junior goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann also came up with several critical saves this afternoon (Oct. 16).
In the 86th minute, EWU's power forward in Williams pounded a ball from deep right on target that Dickmann somehow managed to get her hands on and tip out. This shot would have tied the game 2-2. Dickmann finished with three saves and now has 62 this season. Her career total moves to 103 – ninth in the NAU all-time career saves list.
With a win over arguably the hottest team in the conference who hadn't lost a game in two months, the Lumberjacks' post-season hopes are far from diminished. This was also NAU's first win at home over the Eagles since 2011. Northern Arizona has just three Big Sky games remaining with two of them on the road this weekend at Idaho and Idaho State on Friday, Oct. 21 and Sunday, Oct. 23, respectively.