FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona scored two goals in one minute and six seconds during the second half, breaking a 1-1 halftime tie, and was able to withstand a late goal to defeat Sacramento State, 3-2, on Friday afternoon at Lumberjack Stadium. The Lumberjacks saw their Big Sky-record six game shutout streak come to an end but improved to 7-3-3 overall and 2-0-1 in the Big Sky while the Hornets dropped to 5-7-1 overall and 2-1-0 in conference play.
The Hornets first goal, scored in the 40th minute, ended NAU's school-record shutout streak at 569 minutes and two seconds. The Lumberjacks had not allowed a goal in more than a month, dating back to the 83rd minute of their game at USC on September 12.
"We really responded in the second half after allowing that late goal in the first half," said head coach Andre Luciano. "Every game in our conference counts, so there's a sense of urgency in every game we play and we showed that in the second half. I voted Sacramento State as one of the top teams in the conference and they proved that today, so I give them a lot of credit for pushing us to the end."
NAU jumped to an early lead after senior Brenna Boies attempted her third corner kick in less than a one-minute stretch into the 10th minute. The corner was knocked out of the box by the Hornet defense, but fellow Lumberjack senior Sam Monahan corralled the ball and sent a cross back into the goal mouth. Junior Chelsea Bednarz was able to deflect the feed past Sacramento State junior goalkeeper Savannah Abercrombie to give NAU the early lead.
The teams traded shots into the 40th minute, when the Hornets would even the score. A foul called on the Lumberjacks gave Sacramento State a free kick, which was served into the Lumberjack box by junior Laura Bahno and found teammate Megan Burg for a shot past NAU junior netminder Tori Rocke to break the Lumberjack's record shutout streak and even the game at 1-1.
Northern Arizona nearly broke the stalemate in the opening minutes of the second half, as junior Jenna Samora had a shot beat Abercrombie but hit the post. Samora would go on to set up the tiebreaking goal in the 70th minute, sending a cross into the Hornet goalmouth that found Monahan for a deflection off the right post and in to the Sacramento State goal to put NAU ahead.
Just one minute and six seconds later, Samora would assist on a second goal. Her shot from the left side of the goal was stopped by Abercrombie, but the rebound deflected off the Hornet goalkeeper's hands and came to the feat of NAU junior Carolyn Savage for a rebound to put the Lumberjacks ahead 3-1.
Sacramento State would get back within a goal in the 77th minute. Freshman midfielder Gabriela Trenton sent a feed to the left side of the NAU box, finding teammate Kelsey O'Donnell with plenty of open space. The Hornet sophomore fired an uncontested shot past Rocke into the left side of the goal to bring the score to 3-2.
After giving up that second goal the Lumberjacks settled down defensively, not allowing a single Hornet shot for the remaining 13 minutes of the game to preserve a 3-2 win.
Northern Arizona held a 13-9 shot advantage for the game, allowing only two Hornet shots in the second half. Rocke made four saves to improve to 5-1-1 on the season while Abercrombie made three stops for the visitors. Samora led all players with four shots and recorded her first-two assists of the season, while Monahan's sixth assist of the year moved her ahead of her teammate Boies for the lead in the Big Sky.
The Lumberjacks will put their seven-game unbeaten streak on the line Sunday in a rematch of the 2009 Big Sky Championship quarterfinals against Portland State at noon in Lumberjack Stadium.