Women's Soccer Big Sky Championship Blog - Updated Saturday
PORTLAND, Ore. - Welcome to the
Northern Arizona Women’s Soccer Big Sky Championship Blog
Live from Portland. Click the above links for game notes and video
content as well as live stats from all the Big Sky Championship
Friday – 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time
After a lengthy Thursday of travel, the team is preparing to defend its Big Sky Championship this afternoon. We left Flagstaff at 8 a.m. yesterday, arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor for lunch at 10:30. There was an electrical issue on the plane after boarding, forcing the flight to leave an hour past its scheduled departure time of 12:35.
This delay forced a shuffling of plans, as training was moved from PCC-Rock Creek (where the Big Sky Championship games will be played) to the multi-million dollar facilities at the University of Portland. The Pilots were very accommodating, allowing the team to use one of their practice fields from 5 to 6 p.m. Practicing on their synthetic turf, and the intermittent rain throughout the session, were a perfect precursor for today’s games, as th e Big Sky Championship field is also synthetic turf and there is a 90% chance of rain again today in the City of Roses.
Following practice was a festive dinner at Olive Garden, with the team following through on its request for hundreds of breadsticks. The team hotel is right on the Oregon-Washington boarder, so dinner was actually held across state lines in Vancouver, Washington. Portland State is located about 10 miles south in downtown Portland, but PCC-Rock Creek is roughly 12 miles west of the campus, meaning that the commute from the hotel to the field could take as much as an hour with traffic.
When Portland State last hosted the Big Sky Soccer Championship, in 2004, it played its home games at PGE Park, a 19,000 seat facility that is home to the Portland State football team and the AAA Portland Beavers baseball team and will host the forthcoming Portland MLS franchise in 2011. PCC-Rock Creek is a more suitable venue for NCAA women’s soccer, as the team averaged a respectable 315 fans per game this season despite the location and minimal seating of their home field. For the Big Sky Championship, the university has charted a bus to bring fans and students from the campus to the field- even offering free pizza for the journey.
The team had a light breakfast this morning and will have a catered lunch at the hotel before heading to the field in the early afternoon.
Saturday- 8:30 PM Pacific Time
Following a thrilling Friday night, the team had a relaxing off day in preparation for Sunday’s championship game. The emotional highs and lows of the Lumberjack’s shootout win over Portland State left everyone exhausted, needing some much needed and hard earned down time on Saturday in the city of roses.
While there was no rain and even some sun during the semifinals on Friday, it rained heavily throughout today. After having breakfast and lunch at the hotel as the players rested and took ice baths in the morning, the team was scheduled to practice at 2:30 on the championship field at PCC-Rock Creek. We took the half-hour ride over to the field, through heavy rain, and upon arriving were told that the field had been closed due to the conditions. The players did some light running for five minutes, stretched, and got back on the bus.
Still needing to get a little exercise and time out of the hotel, we did what everyone does when it’s pouring rain: go to the mall. The packed shopping center in nearby Tigard, Oregon proved to be a perfect location for the players to stretch their legs and briefly get their minds off soccer. Following an hour of wandering we went back to the hotel and off to dinner at BJ’s, where sophomore Jenna Samora earned a famous pazookie to celebrate her 20th birthday.
Tonight’s plan calls for more ice baths and early bed times, as a busy Sunday is scheduled to begin with breakfast at 7 a.m. before a 9 a.m. departure to the field for an 11 a.m. start to the Big Sky Championship final. Current forecasts show a 50% chance of rain at game time with kickoff temperature at 49 F. The synthetic field did not appear to be draining the water very well today, but the heavy rain is supposed to ease by early morning, which should allow the field to be in good condition come game time.
The winner of tomorrow’s Big Sky Championship game will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, with the field to be announced Monday night at approximately 6 p.m. Arizona time on ESPNEWS. Unfortunately, internet difficulties prevented the live game blog on Friday and will likely do the same tomorrow. Please follow the game via the above LIVE STATS link and come back to nauathletics.com after the game for a complete recap and, hopefully, information about the Lumberjack’s second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament!