FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Northern Arizona plays its final home games of 2009 this weekend, hosting Montana on Friday at 3 p.m. and Eastern Washington on Sunday at noon. Admission is free for both games with parking available at the NAU bookstore. Sunday’s game will also be senior day, as the Lumberjacks will honor their five seniors prior to kickoff.
Big Sky Breakdown
With three games remaining for all eight Big Sky teams, Northern Arizona currently sits in fifth place, just one point outside the top four. Sunday’s opponent, Eastern Washington, leads the conference with 10 points and a 3-0-1 Big Sky-record, but the Lumberjacks two other remaining opponents, Montana and Northern Colorado, are at the bottom of the Big Sky with a combined 1-6-1 conference record. The top-four teams in the final regular-season standings advance to the Big Sky tournament, to be hosted by the regular-season champion.
The Grizzlies come to Flagstaff with a 3-11-1 overall record and a 1-2-1 mark in conference play. Montana is just 1-7 on the road this season, with their only road win coming on September 4 at Boise State. In conference play, the Grizzlies have defeated Weber State, tied Sacramento State, and lost to Idaho State and Portland State.
Junior Kaitlyn Heinsohn and freshman Frankie Brady both have two goals and two assists to lead the team with six points apiece. Sophomore Brandee Marone has a team-high four assists, as the Grizzlies have scored just 13 goals in 15 games this season. Seniors Grace Harris and Alex Fisher have shared time in goal, with Harris playing the bulk of the minutes and posting a 2.27 goals against average and a .736 save percentage.
Montana has dominated the all-time series with NAU, as the Lumberjacks are just 3-11-1 all-time against the Grizzlies. Northern Arizona has never won in Missoula, but the Lumberjacks have won three of the last five meetings in Flagstaff. Last season, the teams played to a 1-1 tie in Missoula.
Scouting Eastern Washington
The Eagles were just 3-6-1 during the non-conference season, but are thus far undefeated in the Big Sky at 3-0-1 despite only scoring one goal in each conference game. Eastern Washington shut out Weber State, Idaho State and Sacramento State, all 1-0, and tied Portland State, 1-1. The Eagles have not lost since September 18, and have allowed only two goals in their last five games after allowing 12 goals in the three prior games. They will play at Northern Colorado on Friday night before coming to Flagstaff.
Junior forward Brittany Sparks leads the Big Sky with 10 goals and 20 points this season. Sophomore Whitney Brannan has added five goals and three assists, as the pair of forwards have scored 15 of the team’s 22 goals this season. The Eagles have used three goaltenders in 2009, though junior Lisa Dimak has played exclusively in conference games and has a 1.18 goals against average for the season and a 0.24 goals against average in the Big Sky.
The Lumberjacks have won their last four meetings with Eastern Washington and are 7-4-0 in the all-time series. They have not lost a home game to the Eagles since 2002 and posted a 1-0 win last season in Cheney.
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 (32) and, perhaps more impressively, second in shots on goal (14). 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 12 of 15 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. She has recorded shutouts in two of the Lumberjacks last three games.
With eight saves last week, Rocke has 182 career stops and is just one save away from third all-time in Lumberjack history. She is also now tied for fourth in program history in shutouts with 10. 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 two assists this season, senior Sarah Neatherton has moved into sole possession of second-place on NAU’s career assists leaderboard with 16 career helpers. She trails all-time leader Cee Cee Odorfer by just two assists.
Meanwhile, junior Brenna Boies’ conference-leading seven assists in 2009 are tied for the fourth-highest singles-season total in Lumberjack history and have given her a career-total of 14 dimes , which puts her fifth on the all-time career list.
In a look at other career records being challenged, Neatherton has moved into fourth-place in career shots (134) and sixth in career points (30). As mentioned before, sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke is fourth in career saves (182) and is tied for fourth in career shutouts (10).
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 has begun, Northern Arizona will have to play without its fallen players and hope the current squad can remain intact.
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 in just six home dates. Oddly enough, the nine largest crowds in Lumberjack Stadium history have come in games against non-conference opponents. The players and coaches hope that the great support will continue in the remaining home contests this weekend.
June 16, 2010 Soccer Camps Kickoff Next Week; Spots Still Available
April 23, 2010 Womens Soccer to End Spring Season with Alumni Game
April 12, 2010 Womens Soccer, NAU Alums Run Event with Special Olympics
April 7, 2010 Womens Soccer Holds Clinic with Local Youth Players
April 2, 2010 Women's Soccer Announces Six-Match Spring Schedule
March 26, 2010 Spring Breakin with Soccer and Volleyball
March 5, 2010 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans
February 8, 2010 Northern Arizona Students-Athletes Garner Record Cumulative GPA
February 3, 2010 Womens Soccer, Club Teams Take to Shoveling South Fields
February 1, 2010 12 Womens Soccer Players Named All-Academic Big Sky
January 31, 2010 Soccer Walk on Information
November 18, 2009 Soccers Kristi Andreassen Named Academic All-American
November 12, 2009 Women's Soccer Battles No. 1 Stanford, Falls 2-0 in NCAA Tournament
November 11, 2009 Luciano Repeats as Big Sky Soccer Coach of the Year
November 10, 2009 Women's Soccer Returns to NCAA Tournament in Stanford
November 9, 2009 Womens Soccer Headed to Stanford to Open NCAA Tournament
November 7, 2009 Women's Soccer Big Sky Championship Blog - Updated Saturday
November 6, 2009 Womens Soccer Back in Big Sky Final After Shootout Win
November 3, 2009 Boies, Andreassen, Samora Headline All-Big Sky Soccer Selections
November 3, 2009 Women's Soccer Looks to Defend Title at Big Sky Championship
October 31, 2009 Update: Womens Soccer to Face Portland State in BSC Semifinal
October 31, 2009 Womens Soccer Nets Two Academic All-District Selections
October 30, 2009 Womens Soccer Falls at Northern Colorado but Clinches Tourney Birth
October 28, 2009 Women's Soccer to Close Regular Season at Northern Colorado
October 25, 2009 Womens Soccer Defeats Eastern Washington on Senior Day, 4-2
October 23, 2009 Late Rally Lifts Womens Soccer Over Montana in Overtime, 2-1
October 21, 2009 Women's Soccer to Close Home Schedule With Key Big Sky Matches
October 17, 2009 Womens Soccer Blasts Weber State, 3-0
October 13, 2009 Women's Soccer to Continue Big Sky Play at Idaho State, Weber State
October 13, 2009 Lumberjack Stadium to Get Total Makeover
October 12, 2009 October 23 Womens Soccer Game vs. Montana Moved to 3 P.M.
October 11, 2009 Samoras Late Goal Lifts Womens Soccer Past Portland State, 1-0
October 1, 2009 Rocke Returning to Form as Big Sky Season Commences
September 28, 2009 McGuire Earns Big Sky Soccer Co-Offensive Player of the Week Honors
September 27, 2009 Sun, Sun Devils Defeat Womens Soccer, 4-0
September 25, 2009 McGuire Leads Womens Soccer to 2-1 Upset of New Mexico
September 23, 2009 Tough Road Tests Await Womens Soccer This Week
September 18, 2009 Womens Soccer Superb Again in 4-0 Win Over Murray State
September 16, 2009 Women's Soccer to Host Murray State to End Long Homestand
September 12, 2009 Womens Soccer Dominates New Mexico State in 3-1 Victory
September 9, 2009 Womens Soccer Outlasts Pesky Embry-Riddle, 3-1
September 8, 2009 Women's Soccer to Continue Homestand with Embry-Riddle, New Mexico State
September 6, 2009 Iowa Overwhelms Womens Soccer to Close Mountain Classic, 4-1
September 4, 2009 Womens Soccer Blanked by Oakland, 1-0
September 2, 2009 Women's Soccer to Open Five-Match Homestand With Mountain Classic
August 30, 2009 Womens Soccer Silenced by Loyola Marymount, 3-0
August 28, 2009 Record Crowd Watches Womens Soccer Draw with Arizona, 2-2
August 25, 2009 Women's Soccer to Open Home Slate with Arizona, Travel to LMU
August 24, 2009 Zallis Named Big Sky Soccer Offensive Player of the Week
August 23, 2009 Zallis Leads Womens Soccer Past Southern Utah, 2-0
August 21, 2009 Womens Soccer Blanked by Utah State in Season Opener, 2-0
August 18, 2009 Women's Soccer Opens Season At Utah State, Southern Utah
August 12, 2009 Women's Soccer Picked Second in Big Sky Preseason Poll
August 10, 2009 Women's Soccer Preparing to Defend Big Sky Championship
August 8, 2009 Lumberjacks to Hold Open Scrimmage Saturday Night