FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Sophomore Jenna Samora scored twice and
sophomore Ally Cwiekowski added an insurance goal as Northern
Arizona overcame a tied game with just 15 minutes left in
regulation to avoid the upset and top Embry-Riddle, 3-1. The
Lumberjacks ended a three-game losing streak to improve to 2-4-1
while Embry-Riddle, which plays in the NAIA, lost for the first
time in 2009 and is now 2-1-3.
It looked early on that the game would be a repeat of last season’s 9-1 win for NAU over the Eagles, as the home team got on the board just one minute and 51 seconds into the contest. Junior Brenna Boies took her first of many corner kicks on the night and her feed was deflected out by the Eagles defense. The ball found Samora, however, who fired a shot into the top-left corner of the net for her first goal of the season and a very early 1-0 lead.
Boies would attempt four more corner kicks during the half and NAU out-shot Embry-Riddle 7-1 in the opening frame, but neither team had another quality scoring chance as the first 45 minutes elapsed.
In the 59th minute, Samora had a chance to extend the lead as she blasted a shot from just inside the box. Embry-Riddle freshman goalkeeper Ciara Pederson made one of her best saves of the night, diving to her left to deflect the shot out of bounds. The Lumberjacks would follow with two more corner kicks, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Just four minutes later, the Eagles would tie the score on just their second shot on goal of the game. A failed clearance by the NAU defense put the ball at the feat of junior Samantha Welch, who broke to the top of the box and fired a shot past Lumberjack goalkeeper Penny Short to even the score.
After Embry-Riddle found the equalizer, the Lumberjacks went on the attack, determined to avoid the upset. The Jacks would have a series of incredible scoring opportunities, including a breakaway missed wide by Boies and an open net missed wide off a rebound try by junior Rebekah Schmidt.
NAU would finally capitalize in the 75th minute, again off a corner kick. Boies sent a high feed into the box and Samora was able to head the ball past Pederson to regain the lead for Northern Arizona. Samora's second goal of the night was the first goal scored by Northern Arizona in the second half of any game this season.
The Jacks would add an insurance goal in the 81st minute off a failed clearance by Embry-Riddle. Cwiekowski collected the ball and dribbled forward before firing a shot from 30 yards out, tucking it inside the top right corner for her first-career goal and a 3-1 advantage for NAU, a lead that would hold despite a strong effort by the undermanned visitors.
NAU fired a season high 25 shots, including 17 in the second half, out-shooting Embry-Riddle 25-8. Pederson was impressive in goal, withstanding the barrage to make 10 saves, while Short earned her first-career victory with five stops. Boies attempted 10 of NAU’s 11 corner kicks, by far a season high, while the Lumberjacks allowed the Eagles just one corner kick. Samora led the way offensively with 6 shots, placing 5 on goal, while junior Kristi Andreassen attempted five shots.
Embry-Riddle made just one substitution during the game, playing only 12 players, while NAU had 18 players see game action. In three all-time matchups, the Lumberjacks have now outscored Embry-Riddle by an aggregate score of 15-2.
Northern Arizona returns to NCAA Division-I competition on Saturday, hosting first-year women’s soccer program New Mexico State at Lumberjack Stadium at 7 p.m.
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