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Women's Soccer Returns to NCAA Tournament in Stanford

NAU NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES (PDF)
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Northern Arizona returns to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament for the second-consecutive year, facing No. 1 Stanford in the opening round on Thursday in Northern California. UC Santa Barbara and No. 17 BYU will meet in the other first-round game at Stanford on Thursday, with the winners to meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the round of 32. Fans are encouraged to see the team off on Wednesday morning at 9:30 AM at the Walkup Skydome.

Game Coverage

Stanford will provide live game stats and a free video webcast of all three games in the regional. Links will be available on nauathletics.com and on the women’s soccer schedule page. Live game updates will also be provided on the NAU Athletics fan page on facebook, and return to nauathletics.com after the game(s) for a full recap and video content.

NCAA Championship Notes

Stanford is competing in the NCAA Women’s Soccer championship for the 12th-consecutive year. North Carolina has the longest active postseason streak, having been to the College Cup 28 consecutive seasons. Stanford is making its 19th all-time trip to the NCAA Tournament, the fifth-most NCAA trips in all of Division-I women’s soccer. The Cardinal reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals in 2008 and won their sixth Pac-10 title this season.

BYU Reached the College Cup for the fifth-consecutive year and the 12th time in school history. The Cougars are 8-9-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, and reached the Elite Eight in 2003.

2009 marks the second-consecutive NCAA appearance for UC Santa Barbara and the ninth trip in school history. The Gauchos also played in Stanford in the College Cup last year, losing 2-0 to the host Cardinal.

The Gauchos are the only team in the regional that Northern Arizona has ever played, as the Lumberjacks have a 1-2-0 all time record against UCSB. NAU claimed a 3-2 overtime victory in 1998, while the Gauchos won the last two meetings between the schools in 2000 and 2001.

Laird Q Cagan Stadium will have 700 bleacher seats added to its capacity for the NCAA Tournament, extending its capacity to 2,200 for the tournament. The Cardinal sold-out its final regular season game against Cal last week, and Thursday’s crowd could be on of the biggest to ever see a Northern Arizona soccer game.

Scouting Stanford

The consensus No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Stanford was the only Division-1 team to win every game in 2009. The Cardinal has out-scored its opponents 70-12 in 20 games this season, averaging three and a half goals per game (NAU has half as many goals (35) and easily led the Big Sky). Stanford allowed more than one goal only three times all season while scoring more than one goal in 18 of 20 matches. 19 of their wins came in regulation, with only a 2-1 win in one overtime at Washington State forcing the Cardinal to play extra time.

Senior Kelley O’Hara has 23 goals and nine assists this season, passing USA Soccer legend and Stanford Alum Julie Foudy in the school’s career scoring record books and establishing a Stanford single-season record in goals. Junior Christen Press has 16 goals and 13 assists for the year, while junior goalkeeper Kira Maker has a 0.63 goals against average and only had to make 33 saves all season for a perfect record and eight shutouts.

Scouting BYU

The Cougars enter the tournament ranked No. 20 in the NSCAA/adidas Division-1 Poll after a 17-3-2 season. Brigham Young was upset in the Mountain West Championship by San Diego State, but still earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman Carlee Payne leads the team with 13 goals and 10 assists for 36 points. Junior Kassidy Shumway has contributed seven goals and four assists for 18 points during the season, as BYU out-scored its opponents 36-13 en route to a regular season Mountain West championship. Sophomore goalkeeper McKinzie Olson has a 0.57 goals against average and 11 shutouts for the Cougars, who had a 15-game unbeaten streak ended with their loss to the Aztecs in the MWC Championship game last week.

Scouting UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara advanced to the NCAA tournament after upsetting Cal State Northridge and defeating Cal Poly in a shootout to win the Big West Championship and earn the conference’s automatic bid for the second-consecutive year. After starting the season at 3-7-1, the Gauchos caught fire to end the year en route to winning their conference championship and entering the NCAA Tournament at 9-9-3.

Junior Kailyn Kugler leads the squad with nine goals and five assists for 23 points, as the low-scoring Gauchos netted just 27 goals in 21 games. Junior Tammy Lenham has returned from injury to lead the team in goal, posting a 0.91 goals against average, .800 save percentage and four shutouts in 13 starts during the season.

Awards and Accolades

Northern Arizona sophomore forward Jenna Samora, junior defender Kristi Andreassen and junior midfielder Brenna Boies were named to the All-Big Sky First Team, while junior defender Tori Howe earned Second-Team honors. Receiving All-Big Sky Honorable Mention for the Lumberjacks were senior Sarah Neatherton, Junior midfielders Sam Monahan and Brandy Carr and sophomore midfielder Corie McGuire.

Samora was named the MVP of the Big Sky Championship after scoring a pair of goals to lead the Lumberjacks to the conference title. Joining Samora on the All-Tournament team were Andreassen, Monahan, Howe, junior defender Rebekah Schmidt and sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke. NAU totaled six of the 12 players to be named to the Big Sky Conference All-Tournament team.

Like a Rock

The only player to start every game for NAU this season and the Lumberjacks leader in minutes played, junior Kristi Andreassen has been a model of consistency and durability along the Northern Arizona back line. As a defender, Andreassen is second on the team in shots (48) and is tied for the team lead in shots on goal (25). She is the de-facto taker of free kicks for the Lumberjacks, and has come close to scoring goals from midfield or beyond throughout the season.

At 5-11, she is also NAU’s best weapon on the receiving end of corner kicks, having scored two goals this season off corners. Her five total goals are second-best on the team, as Northern Arizona led the Big Sky in goals for the year. In addition to her strong leg and offensive abilities, she has anchored the Lumberjack defense and has played every minute in 16 of 20 NAU games this season.

The Tempe, Ariz. native was the only Lumberjack to start every game in 2008 as well, becoming only the fourth NAU player to be named to the All-Big Sky First-Team and repeated as an All-Big Sky First-Team selection in 2009. She was also named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Team and is being considered for Academic All-American honors.

Sky High Samora

After a slow start to the season offensively, sophomore forward Jenna Samora has been on fire throughout Big Sky play. She had a goal or an assist in five of seven Northern Arizona conference games, tying with Andreassen for the team lead with three goals and two assists for eight points in conference play.

She was tied for second in the Big Sky in goals and points in conference games, and was fifth in the conference in goals and points for the season. She leads the Lumberjacks with six goals and two assists for 14 points in the regular season after being named Big Sky Newcomer of the Year as a Freshman in 2008. She was named All-Big Sky First-Team in 2009 and was the MVP of the Big Sky Championship after scoring two goals during the tournament.
Samora’s numbers are particularly impressive considering she was held without a single point through the initial six games of the season. She has recorded at least one point in 9 of 14 games since then and has averaged more than one point per game in the last 14 contests. She also has a goal or an assist in seven of the last eight NAU games, in which the team has a 5-2-1 record

Happy Helpers

With two assists in the Big Sky Championship, senior Sarah Neatherton has is now tied with Cee Cee Odorfer for the most careers assists in Northern Arizona Soccer History with 18 career helpers.

Meanwhile, junior Brenna Boies’ conference-leading eight assists in 2009 are tied for the third-highest single-season total in Lumberjack history and have given her a career-total of 15 dimes , which puts her in a tie for third on the all-time career list. She is also now eighth in career points (25).

In a look at other career records being challenged, Neatherton has moved into fourth-place in career shots (144) and is tied for sixth in career points (34). Samora is now tied for fifth in career goals (15) and tied for sixth in career points (34), while Andreassen is sixth in career shots (100). Sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke has moved into third in career saves (194) and is fourth in career shutouts (11).

The Wounded

In the Lumberjacks 2-1 win over New Mexico on September 25, sophomore midfielder Lauren Zallis became the latest on a long list of Lumberjacks to sustain season-ending injuries. Zallis joined sophomore goalkeeper Natasha Slaughter as NAU players to sustain season-ending knee injuries during the 2009 season, though the injury bug hit the Lumberjacks before the season even began.

Senior and team-captain Sarah Vallen endured a season-ending knee injury of her own just before the Lumberjacks first game of the season. Also yet to play this year due to injury are senior Kara Vitacca, sophomore Ethi Ethridge, and freshman Jennifer Beaudoin. Fortunately, there were no further injuries during Big Sky play.

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.

Four of NAU’s seven-largest attendance figures have been recorded this season. Oddly enough, the nine largest crowds in Lumberjack Stadium history have come in games against non-conference opponents. With a crowd of 516 fans for last Sunday’s home finale, Northern Arizona averaged 884 fans for its nine home games this season, shattering the previous record for average home attendance of 595 set in 2004. Unfortunately, the renovation of Lumberjack Stadium will likely prevent the record from being challenged next season, but when the new stadium is unveiled in 2011 the team hopes to see the attendance record broken again.