CHENEY, Wash. – In the Big Sky Championship game, the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team tied the Eastern Washington Eagles after 120 minutes, but fell in penalty kicks to finish 10-7-5 for the 2016 campaign and barely miss an NCAA Tournament berth. Head Coach Andre Luciano and the Lumberjacks rounded out the season on a eight-game unbeaten streak dating back to Oct. 9, winning four of their last five contests.
"I think we have a lot to be proud of," Luciano said. "To have just three losses in our last 16 games speaks a lot to how far our team has come. I'm super grateful for the people they are, but disappointed for the seniors especially because I know they wanted this one really bad. Overall, we have a lot of positives to reflect on."
Lumberjacks Anna Goebel, Adrian Nixt, Riley Porter, Meghan Dickmann and Lindsay Doyle were each named to the 13-player All-Tournament Team roster. Goebel ended the tournament with three goals – two of which were game winners – while Doyle finished with one goal, Nixt connected on one penalty kick versus the Eagles and Riley Porter was a force to be reckoned with in NAU's back line.
One penalty kick awarded to NAU in the first half was what gave the 'Jacks a 1-0 lead at the break. Eastern Washington had 10 shots – and NAU's only look came off senior forward Ali Lixandru's penalty kick in the 41st minute. She found the upper-right corner to help swing the momentum in the Lumberjacks' favor.
The Eagles were hot from the start with two quick looks in the first two minutes. The first hit the crossbar and the second ended in a pretty-looking save for junior goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann. In the first 15 minutes, EWU had four attempts and NAU had nil, but the Lumberjack defense found a way to get stops.
To open up the second period, the Eagles finally connected on their 13th attempt of the afternoon following a corner kick and the ball being batted around the goalie box a few times. The shots continued for Eastern Washington, but so did the stops for Northern Arizona. Freshman defender Amanda Bennett was tasked with shutting down EWU's best goal-scorer in Chloe Williams – and did just that.
At the end of regulation, the Eagles had 18 shots and held NAU to three. The Lumberjacks relied heavily on their defense as Dickmann continued to be tested in goal and tallied seven saves in 90 minutes to keep the score 1-1. Freshman forward Kambree Meskill had a stellar look at goal in the 97th minute – during the first overtime period – but missed high.
Still deadlocked at 1-1 through 100 minutes of soccer, the Lumberjacks and Eagles strapped up for a second overtime period. Northern Arizona maintained most of the possession in the final 10 minutes of overtime with two chances off corner kicks. The game then came down to penalty kicks where EWU's save on NAU's first attempt proved to be the difference.