FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Winner’s of three straight games,
Northern Arizona embarks on arguably its toughest road trip of the
year, playing at New Mexico Friday night and at Arizona State on
Sunday afternoon. With a combined record of 12-1-4, the two
opponents this week will provide a strong test for the Lumberjacks
before conference play begins in two weeks.
Scouting New Mexico
The Lobos begin the week undefeated and will host fellow Big Sky-school Northern Colorado on Wednesday night to open a five game homestand. The Aggies participated in the NAU Mountain Classic in Flagstaff earlier this season but did not face the Lumberjacks. In the tournament, New Mexico beat Iowa, 1-0, and Oakland, 2-0, teams that both defeated Northern Arizona. Six of New Mexico’s seven wins have been shutouts.
For the season, New Mexico has out-scored its opponent by an impressive 17-3 tally and have only allowed the opposition to score in two of their nine games. Sophomore forward Jennifer Williams was sensational in the Lobos’ games in Flagstaff and has seven goals and four assists for 18 points this season, including five game winning goals. In goal, freshman Kelli Cornell has a 0.32 goals against average and a .889 save percentage with seven shutouts in 2009.
Northern Arizona is 1-6-1 all-time against New Mexico, with the only win coming in Flagstaff in 2001. Last season in Albuquerque, the teams played to a 1-1 tie.
Scouting Arizona State
Arizona State has not lost since August 30 and will host Pepperdine on Friday night before facing NAU on Sunday. The Sun Devils only defeat of the season was a 1-0 loss to Kansas, though ASU has only outscored its opponents by a narrow 12-7 mark for the season and four of their five wins are by one goal. Included in the Sun Devils impressive results this year is a 1-1 tie with then-No. 8 Virginia in Tempe on September 6.
Junior Alexandra Elston leads the team with three goals and one assist for seven points while three of her teammates have scored twice this season. Redshirt senior Briana Silvestri has played exclusively in goal for the Sun Devils and has a 0.82 goals against average and two shutouts.
NAU is 1-5 in the all-time series with it’s in-state rival, having defeated ASU in Tempe in 2001. Last season in Flagstaff, Arizona State recorded a 4-2 victory in the Lumberjacks season-opener.
Go to Your Corner!
With eight more corner kicks against Murray State last Friday, Northern Arizona has taken an astounding 30 corner kicks while allowing only seven to the opposition in the last three games. NAU attempted 11 corner kicks in each of their games against Embry-Riddle and New Mexico State, scoring three goals off those attempts, and added another corner kick-goal against Murray State. NAU had allowed 29 corners while attempting only 22 through the initial six games of the season, but now have a 52-36 advantage in what has proved to be a key offensive statistic.
The Lumberjacks hadn’t scored a goal off a corner kick through the first five games of the season, but have scored five goals off corners in the last four games. That amount is one more than the total number of goals scored through the opening five games of the season. The increase in attempts has, not coincidentally, coincided with a 72-21 shot advantage for the Lumberjacks in their last three contests and a major controlling of possession.
With marksman Brenna Boies taking the majority of NAU’s corner kicks and weapons like 5-11 Kristi Andreassen on the receiving end, the corner kick should continue to be an important offensive tool for the Lumberjacks throughout the season.
Northern Arizona had scored only five goals this season through six games, averaging just .83 goals per game, but have exploded for 10 goals on 72 shots in their last three games.
The Lumberjacks had scored just one goal in the 336 minutes and 28 seconds leading up to their Sept. 9 games against Embry-Riddle, a span of more than three and a half games. The home team put a quick end to that streak, scoring the game’s first goal just one minute and 51 seconds into that match. NAU also had a quick strike on Sept. 12 against New Mexico State, as Sarah Neatherton got on the board in the 11th minute. With double-digit shots recorded in four of the its last six halves of soccer last week, NAU is making sure to assert its offensive presence early and often.
The Lumberjacks had put just one shot on goal every 18 minutes and 40 seconds through their first six games, but with 33 shots on goal in the three games they are firing on net at a rate of one sog every 8 minutes and 11 seconds during the stretch. With that effort, the Lumberjacks shaved more than five minutes off their season shots on goal rate and are now putting a try on goal once every 13 minutes and 10 seconds for the year.
With one assist this season, senior Sarah Neatherton has moved into a tie for second-place on NAU’s career assists leaderboard with 15 career helpers. She trails all-time leader Cee Cee Odorfer by just three assists.
Meanwhile, junior Brenna Boies’ five assists in 2009 have given her a career-total of 12 dimes , which puts her in a tie for sixth on the all-time list.
In a look at other career records being challenged, Neatherton has moved into fourth-place in career shots (132) and sixth in career points (29). Sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke is already fifth in career saves (156) and is fifth in career shutouts (8).
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