Women's Soccer to Open Big Sky Play at Sac State, Home vs. Vikings
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Following a .500 non-conference season and a
week to rest, Northern Arizona begins defense of its Big Sky title
at Sacramento State on Friday and home against Portland State on
Sunday. The Hornets and Vikings were two of three Big Sky teams to
post winning records during the pre-conference season. Admission is
free for Sunday's contest, with parking available at the NAU
Bookstore. The new entrance will be located on the south west side
of Lumberjack Stadium.
Scouting Sacramento State
The Hornets are unbeaten in their last three games, including a 1-0 upset of No. 10 California in Berkeley last Friday. In its last game on Sunday, Sacramento State tied San Jose State, 1-1, and the Hornets are undefeated at home this season with a 3-0-2 record.
Junior Cori Shreve leads the team with three goals and two assists for eight points and also leads the the squad with 18 shots. Junior Leah Larot has also scored three goals while sophomore Elece McBride has two goals and leads the team with three assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Savannah Abercrombie has been named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week three times this season and leads the conference in goals against average (.63) and save percentage (.873) and is tied for the lead in shutouts (5).
The Lumberjacks have won three of their last four meetings with the Hornets, including a 2-0 win in Flagstaff last season, but have not won in Sacramento since 2003. NAU holds an 8-5 advantage in the all-time series.
Scouting Portland State
Portland State has won two-straight games, including a 2-1 win over Gonzaga last Sunday in Portland. The Vikings opened 2009 with a 1-0 win over Oregon State in Corvallis and also have road victories over Wyoming, North Dakota State and Utah Valley.
Senior Dolly Enneking is second in the Big Sky with seven goals and 15 points and is the defending Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week. She also leads the Big Sky with 33 shots and is tied for the conference lead with two game-winning goals. She is the only player on the team with more than one goal this season. Senior goalkeeper Cris Lewis is tied for the Big Sky-lead with five shutouts and is second in the conference in goals against average (1.16) and saves (69) and third in save percentage (.831).
NAU beat Portland State, 1-0, in the Big Sky tournament semifinals last season after the teams played to a 0-0 tie in Portland during the regular season. The Lumberjacks are 8-4-1 all time against the Vikings.
Go (Back) to Your Corner!
In the last three games of the Lumberjacks five-game homestand, NAU attempted an astounding 30 corner kicks while allowing only seven to the opposition. 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.
However, in Northern Arizona’s last two games, the team attempted just three total corner kicks while allowing 12. Those numbers go hand-in-hand with a sharp decrease in shot attempts, as NAU had taken 72 shots in the previous-three games but attempted just 10 shots in the two road contests.
The team was outshot 52-10 in their two games at New Mexico and Arizona State, and only attempted one total first half-shot in the pair of games. The Lumberjacks also only put five shots on goal during the road trip, but were able to score twice against the Lobos in their 2-1 win.
With a 5-5-1 non-conference record, the Lumberjacks season has been statistically even, with an equal number of wins and losses and one tie, which is the game-equivalent of being equal. But the even numbers go beyond just the record of the team:
This season, NAU and its opposition have the exact same number of saves, 51. NAU and its opposition have the exact same number of fouls, 88. NAU and its opposition have the exact same number of second half goals, 8. And NAU and its opposition have the exact same shots-on-goal percentage, 12%.
The combined record of NAU’s non-conference opponents this season: 65-62-16, just 1% away from being .500, the statistical equivalent of even. Hopefully the statistical anomalies will break in the Lumberjacks favor in the Big Sky.
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 (24) and, perhaps more impressively, second in shots on goal (10). 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, and scored her lone goal this season off a corner. In addition to her strong leg and offensive abilities, she has anchored the Lumberjack defense and has played every minute in eight of 11 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 appears destined for a second Big Sky First-Team selection and perhaps conference Defender of the Year in 2009. Oh, and she has a perfect 4.00 GPA in her Northern Arizona academic career.
Like a Rocke
Following off-season shoulder surgery, sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke was forced to sit out NAU’s initial three games of the season. Upon her return to the Lumberjack goal, Rocke endured some early struggles, allowing three goals to Loyola Marymount, one goal on just three shots against Oakland, and four goals against Iowa.
Since then, the sophomore from Garden Grove, Calif. has appeared to regain her form from a year ago that led the team to the NCAA Tournament and earned Rocke All-Big Sky Honorable Mention. After sitting out the Lumberjacks game versus Embry-Riddle, Rocke made three saves in a 3-1 win over New Mexico State, four saves in a shutout of Murray State, and seven saves in a 2-1 upset of New Mexico. She did allow four goals in the Lumberjack’s 4-0 loss to Arizona State, but made six outstanding saves while facing 24 shots two days after New Mexico fired 28 shots on the NAU goal.
In just her second season in the NAU goal, Rocke is already fourth in Lumberjack history with 169 career saves and is fifth in shutouts with eight. She led the Big Sky in goals against average (.40), save percentage (.938) and shutouts (4) in conference games last season, and the Lumberjacks will hope for similar numbers for a successful title defense in 2009.
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’ conference-leading 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). As mentioned before, sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke is fourth in career saves (169) and is fifth in career shutouts (8).
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 season due to injury are senior Kara Vitacca, sophomore Ethi Ethridge, and freshman Jennifer Beaudoin. Now that Big Sky play is set to begin, Northern Arizona will have to play without its fallen players and hope the current squad can remain intact.