Mountain Classic Schedule
Iowa vs. New Mexico - 4 p.m.
Oakland at Northern Arizona - 7 p.m.
Oakland vs. New Mexico - 11 a.m.
Iowa at Northern Arizona - 1 p.m.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - After a record crowd saw Northern Arizona and
Arizona play to a 2-2 draw last Friday, the Lumberjacks return home
to begin a five-match homestand by hosting the Moutain Classic. The
Jacks will face Oakland on Friday night and Iowa on Sunday
afternoon. New Mexico will also be involved in the tournament, but
will not face Northern Arizona until later this season in
Albuquerque. Friday’s action begins with Iowa facing New
Mexico at 4 p.m. while Sunday’s slate begins with the Lobos
battling Oakland at 11 a.m. Admission and parking will be free for
all four games. Live Stats will be available for all games by
clicking the above link.
The defending Co-champion of the Summit League, Oakland comes to Flagstaff with a 1-1-0 record after falling to Michigan State, 3-0, and defeating St. Bonaventure, 2-1, to begin the season. Sophomores Deanna Colarossi and Sarah Lynch scored the Grizzlies goals while freshman goalkeeper Whitney Sarkis made four saves in their first win of the season.
The Grizzlies went 9-9-2 overall in 2008 but were 7-1-0 in the Summit League during the regular season. Oakland was upset by South Dakota State in the Summit League championship game, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament after advancing to the college cup the previous two seasons.
In 2009, Oakland was picked by the Summit League coaches to win the conference title. Northern Arizona has never played the school from Rochester, Michigan, and has not played a team from the Great Lakes State since facing Central Michigan in 2002.
The Hawkeyes played their initial three games of the season at home, falling 3-2 to No. 24 Missouri but rebounding with 2-0 wins over Big Sky school Montana and South Dakota State. Sophomore Morgan Showalter has already scored three goals this season while senior Alex Seydel has netted two. Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Moran has not allowed a goal in Iowa’s last two games and has faced only 11 shots on goal through three games.
Iowa went 9-11-1 in 2008 and posted a 3-6-1 record in the talented Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes quallified for the Big Ten tournament but lost, 2-1, to No. 23 Penn State in the opening round. This season, Iowa was picked to finish 10th in the 11-school conference. NAU has never before faced Iowa.
Half Full, Half Empty
Through the Lumberjacks intial four contests of the season, an alrming desparity between first and second half offense has emerged. While NAU has scored a respectable four goals in the first half this season, the Lumberjacks have yet to find the back of the net in any second half thus far. NAU has attempted just 15 second-half shots so far (3.75 second-half shots per game) and put 12 of those attempted on goal. That means that in the final 45 minutes of games this season, the Lumberjacks are only attempting one shot every 12 minutes.
Of course, the fact that NAU or its opponent has held a 2-0 scoring advantage at halftime in three of four games means that the leading team is able to keep more players back defensively and conversly limit its offensive push. That said, the Lumberjacks have actually only attempted two more shots in the first half this season despite the four goals scored. NAU has also only allowed two second-half goals, compared to five goals allowed in the opening frame.
Overall, NAU is being out-shot this season 58-36, but the Lumberjacks have put an impressive 61% of shots on goal while allowing just 48% of shots to be placed on net. With offense at a premium thus far, an early lead is important, but second-half offense is also a must for any championship team.
Sophomore midfielder Lauren Zallis scored yet again on Friday night against Arizona, giving her a Big Sky-leading three goals already this 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.
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 aginst 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 Sunday’s game, but the Flagstaff native has made a strong impression as the last line of defense.
Pack the Jack
Friday night’s crowd of 2,187 fans 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. Friday’s 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 on Friday was greater than NAU’s total season home attendance in the year 2000, when the Lumberjacks had just five home dates in Lumberjack Stadium.
Oddly enough, the six largest crowds in Lumberjack Stadium history have come in games against non-conference opponents. With just four 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, wish to thank all of the supporters on Friday night and hope to see all of them back in the Jack this weekend.