CHENEY, Wash. – It was a matchup of the 2014 and the 2015 Big Sky Tournament Champions. This morning's (Nov. 2) contest featuring the No. 3 Northern Arizona University women's soccer team and the No. 6 University of Northern Colorado Bears was an exciting one as Head Coach Andre Luciano and the Lumberjacks finished on top by a final score of 2-1. The 'Jacks live another day to face No. 2 Sacramento State in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. MST.
Northern Arizona moves to 9-7-4 overall while the defending Big Sky Champions Northern Colorado finish the 2016 campaign at 10-8-2.
"Northern Colorado is such a quality opponent with dangerous players," Luciano said. "Adrian [Nixt] scored a great goal early on that gave us a little bit of a cushion – and credit UNC for coming back and tying the game. We had to put as much pressure as we could on their back line in the second half and Anna Goebel scored a great second goal for us. Now we live for another day."
"We just have to play the same way we did today moving forward – relentless," Goebel said. "We have to have high pressure, never let up and finish our chances."
Let's just say the Lumberjacks started the game on fire and undoubtedly ended that way as well. Junior forward Adrian Nixt scored her ninth goal this season to put NAU up 1-0 with just 1:25 on the clock. Northern Arizona finished with seven shots in the first half with two looks from Nixt and one apiece from Amanda Bennett, Lindsay Doyle, Kambree Meskill, Riley Porter and Goebel.
Doyle, Meskill and Nixt's attempts were all incredibly close to putting the Lumberjacks on the board for a second time: Doyle missed just wide, Meskill's header off an NAU corner kick ended in a Northern Colorado save and Nixt's shot hit the post. It wasn't until under the 30 minute mark where NAU paid for a minor defensive slip-up and the Bears tied the game 1-1.
Northern Colorado finished the first 45 minutes with five shots and two saves, but the score was deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the intermission. Nearly 15 minutes into the second half, the Lumberjacks notched the go-ahead goal – this time it was Goebel off a thread-the-needle assist from Shelbie O'Connor.
With a 2-1 edge and still plenty of time for the Bears to strike, NAU held on tight for the final 30 minutes of the game. Northern Colorado did have several looks at goal, and only fell one shot shy of matching NAU's attempts, but the Lumberjacks locked it down defensively as the clock winded down. Junior goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann finished the day with three saves.