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September 12, 2009

Women’s Soccer Dominates New Mexico State in 3-1 Victory

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona blasted a season-high 27 shots and controlled possession throughout the game in a 3-1 victory over New Mexico State Saturday night at Lumberjack Stadium. NAU won its second-straight game to improve to 3-4-1 while the first-year women’s soccer team from New Mexico State dropped to 2-4-0.

The Lumberjacks got on the board early Saturday night as they did in their win on Wednesday, scoring the first goal of the game in the 11th minute. Junior Corie McGuire, making her third start of the season, sent a lead pass to junior Sarah Neatherton 25 yards from the Aggie goal. Neatherton, who missed Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle, fired a shot at goalkeeper Katie Graul, who got a piece of the ball but could not stop it from crossing the goal line to give NAU the early lead.

Less than three minutes later, the Aggies would net the equalizer. Junior Baili Foutz took a corner kick from the left side of the field and found teammate Kelly Heiman in the box. The freshman was unmarked and was able to head the ball past NAU goalkeeper Tori Rocke to bring the visitors back even.

The Lumberjacks would have their chances to quickly regain the lead, including a missile off the foot of Neatherton that was stopped with a sensational diving save by Graul in the 27th minute.

NAU would find the back of the net off its own corner kick with seven minutes remaining in the half, with junior Katie Tribbey sending the lob into the box. The ball found sophomore Kathryn Wertz for a header into the net, giving the Flagstaff native her first-career goal and Northern Arizona a 2-1 halftime advantage.

After a 15-3 first half shot total in favor of the home team, NAU would continue to control possession and limit New Mexico State’s opportunities in the second half. With the Aggies looking to tie the score, it was the Lumberjacks that added a goal in the 83rd minute. Neatherton broke free along the right side of the box and sent a pass to oncoming teammate Lauren Zallis, who slipped a shot past a sliding Graul into the right corner of the net. Zallis’ team-leading fourth goal of the season extended the Jack’s lead to the eventual final score of 3-1.

“I thought this was our gutsiest performance of the season. I thought we had our best fight and I think we’ve gotten back into our old rhythm,” said head coach Andre Luciano. “We’re back where we need to be. We simplified things and simplified roles offensively a little bit and that has made a difference.”

Northern Arizona’s 27 shots eclipsed the previous season high of 25, set Wednesday night against Embry-Riddle, while the Jacks limited New Mexico State to just eight shots. Rocke made three saves for her first victory of the season while Graul stopped seven shots in the loss. Zallis and sophomore Jenna Samora each attempted six shots for NAU, while reserve forward Vanessa Thomas paced the Aggies with three shots.

Neatherton became the first NAU player to record both a goal and an assist in a game this season. The Lumberjacks tied a season-high with 11 corner kicks while allowing only two and have now attempted 22 corner kicks in the last two games while allowing just three.

The Lumberjacks will end their five-game homestand next Friday night when they host Murray State at Lumberjack Stadium at 7 p.m.