Women's Soccer to Continue Homestand with Embry-Riddle, New Mexico State
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Looking to break a three-game losing streak,
the Lumberjacks return to the pitch to host NAIA school
Embry-Riddle on Wednesday night before returning to D-I competition
against New Mexico State on Saturday. The Lumberjacks lost both
their contests in the Mountain Classic last weekend, falling to
Oakland, 1-0, and Iowa, 4-1. With just five games remaining before
Big Sky play commences, NAU is looking to get back on the winning
track with three more home games to come on their season-long five
The Eagles represent the only non-Division-I opponent on the Lumberjacks 2009 schedule for the second-consecutive year. Embry-Riddle plays in the NAIA, roughly the equivalent of the NCAA Division-III level. The small Aeronautical school in Prescott sponsors just four athletic programs, with teams playing men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and wrestling.
Embry-Riddle begins the week at 2-0-3, having defeated the University of St. Francis (Ill.), 3-0, and Hastings College, 1-0. Freshman goalkeeper Ciara Pederson recorded both shutouts for the Eagles, who have played three games in Illinois and hosted two home games in Prescott this year. The Eagles went 8-6-2 last season in their first year playing under head coach Todd Poitras, their first season in program history with a winning record.
Among Embry-Riddle’s losses in 2008 was a 9-1 defeat at the hands of NAU in Prescott. The Lumberjacks set program records in that contest for goals in a half (6), total goals (9), assists (14) and points (32) and also broke Big Sky records for assists and points in a game. NAU is 2-0 all time against Embry-Riddle, outscoring the Eagles by an aggregate mark of 12-1.
Scouting New Mexico State
The Aggies, playing their first season of women’s soccer in school history, will be concluding a four-game road trip in Flagstaff on Saturday and have played only one home game so far this season, a 2-1 overtime lost to fellow Big Sky school Idaho State. NMSU has already played three OT games through five contests this season, also losing in overtime to UTEP but beating Air Force in extra time last Sunday.
New Mexico State has scored six goals in five games and amazingly has only been credited with one assist. Freshman Crystal Burns has recorded the loan helper and is also tied for the team lead in goals, with two, with junior Nina Yanes. Senior transfer Katie Graul has played exclusively in net for the Aggies and has a 1.33 goals against average to go with a .841 save percentage.
The Aggies, with 20 freshman on the roster, were picked to finish last in the WAC in their inaugural campaign this season and will obviously be facing Northern Arizona for the first time.
Northern Arizona has scored only five goals this season in six games, averaging just .83 goals per game, while allowing two goals per game. Outside of Lauren Zallis’ three tallies, the rest of the team has just two goals this season, and one of those was on a penalty kick.
Junior Kristi Andreassen’s goal in the 40th minute against Iowa on Sunday was the first goal for NAU in Six halves of game action for the Lumberjacks. The tally ended a streak of 285 minutes and 46 seconds without a goal for Northern Arizona, dating back to Lauren Zallis’ goal in the 44th minute against Arizona on August 28. The Jacks have scored just one goal in the last 336 minutes and 28 seconds, a span of more than three and a half games.
NAU is also still without a goal in the second half of any game this season, having scored all five of their goals in 2009 in the opening half. The Lumberjacks did increase their second half shot output in their two contests last week and now have an equal number of shots in each half this season with 28 tries registered in each frame. That still only translates to 4.67 shots per half or roughly one shot every 9.6 minutes. The Jacks have put half of their total shots on goal (30 of 60), but that translates to just one shot on goal every 18 minutes and 40 seconds.
Sophomore midfielder Lauren Zallis has more than half of the Lumberjacks goals this season, registering three tallies on the young season.
The sophomore scored twice against Southern Utah during the Lumberjacks game in Cedar City, leading Northern Arizona to a 2-0 win and earning the initial Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week Honor for the 2009 season. The award was the first for Zallis, who doubled her career scoring total in that game. She would add a goal late in the first half against Arizona, leading NAU to a tie with the in-state rival.
Zallis earned All-Big Sky Honorable Mention during her 2008 freshman season, playing in all 22 games with 17 starts. She tallied two goals and one assist, and played a season-high 78 minutes against Portland in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
With starting goalkeeper Tori Rocke injured for the Lumberjacks opening road trip, sophomore keeper and Flagstaff High alum Natasha Slaughter got an opportunity to shine. After coming on for the second half against Utah State and starting the Jack’s game at Southern Utah, Slaughter began her season with 135 minutes of blemish-free goal, including her first-career shutout against the Thunderbirds.
The sophomore made two saves in a scoreless second-half at Utah State, keeping the Lumberjacks within striking distance after a 2-0 half-time deficit. She got the call to make her second-career start against Southern Utah, making five stops to record the blank sheet. Arizona was able to get two goals past Slaughter, but she made a career-high six saves in the tie. She is third in the Big Sky in save percentage (.867) and fourth in saves and goals against average.
In 2008, Slaughter appeared in three games and started against Washington. She made 10 saves in limited action and allowed four goals. Slaughter’s time in goal may be limited the rest of the season, as she sustained a knee injury warming up prior to NAU's game at Loyola Marymount, but the Flagstaff native has made a strong impression as the last line of defense.
Pack the Jack
The crowd of 2,187 fans in NAU’s game against Arizona established a new program record for attendance at Lumberjack Stadium, surpassing the previous mark of 2,011 set on November 24, 2004 in a game against Nevada. The crowd was just the second over 2,000 and just the fourth all-time attendance figure to reach four digits. In fact, the 2,187 fans was greater than NAU’s total season home attendance in the year 2000, when the Lumberjacks had just five home dates in Lumberjack Stadium.
The fans continued to come out in droves last weekend, posting two more crowds over 1,000 fans. Three of NAU’s six-largest attendance figures have been recorded this season in just three home dates.
Oddly enough, the eight largest crowds in Lumberjack Stadium history have come in games against non-conference opponents. With just two more home games remaining before the current seating area is torn down, fans will have limited opportunities through the remainder of the season to come in as great numbers. The players and coaches, however, hope that the great support will continue throughout the season and in to conference play.