FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The 2011 season may not have gotten off to the start the Northern Arizona soccer team would have liked, but they are ready to turn the page on last weekend. With a large home crowd expected for the opening of the newly renovated Lumberjack Stadium Friday night when NAU hosts Drake, the Lumberjacks will look to get into the win column for the first time this season.
"We've had a lot of support from the community and we just want to put on a performance for them," said senior forward Sam Monahan. "It's going to be a fresh start, especially trying to make up for last weekend. Hopefully we can get some wins, get our confidence back and go from there."
NAU (0-2) and Drake (1-1) will square off in the second game of a doubleheader on the first night of the Mortenson Mountain Classic at 7 p.m. The opening game of the Mountain Classic features Southern Utah (1-1) and Northern Iowa (1-1) at 4 p.m.
The tournament continues on Sunday at 10 a.m. with Southern Utah battling Drake, and the Lumberjacks wrap up the tournament at 1 p.m. against Northern Iowa.
"I'm excited to play under the lights on Friday," said senior forward Jenna Samora. "It's been two years since we've had a Friday night game, so it'll be good to get back to that."
Drake comes into the tournament at 1-1 after splitting its first two games of the season last weekend. They are coming off a 10-6-3 season, their first double-digit win season since 2006, and fourth-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Junior Tara Zika is the reigning MVC Offensive Player of the Week after scoring two goals in the Bulldogs' victory over Green Bay last week. Sophomore goalkeeper Kalena Litch, a second team All-MVC selection a year ago, made 12 saves in the opening weekend, including a career-high tying nine against Green Bay.
"Drake will probably a 4-3-3 and we've experienced that before with ASU," said head coach Andre Luciano. "They're a very solid team and it'll give us an opportunity to see the changes we've made and how it works."
Northern Iowa (1-1), also out of the MVC, split their opening weekend. The Panthers were picked to finish seventh in the preseason MVC poll following a 4-12-2 campaign in 2010. Sophomore Sam Copley and junior Kiki McClellan were named preseason MVC honorable mentions and senior Ashley Sill owns the team's lone goal of the season, a game-winner against Eastern Illinois in the Panthers' season opener.
"Northern Iowa is a mirror of us in terms of how they play," Luciano said. "They're going to be very good in their back four and they're midfield is dynamic. They're going to be creative in their attack. I expect them to be a very organized and hard working team."
The Lumberjacks dropped both of its games last weekend, 7-0 at Arizona State and 3-1 at Southern Utah. Freshman Sarah Tarver scored her first career goal against Southern Utah, and is the team's only goal scorer thus far. Junior Natasha Slaughter and sophomore Lauren Weaver each made a start in goal last weekend, and both have six saves on the season.
This will be the first all-time meeting for the Lumberjacks against both Drake and Northern Iowa.
This weekend, one ticket will be good for both games on Friday and Sunday respectively. Tickets can be purchased at 928-523-5661.
Media Guide: The 2011 NAU soccer media guide is now available as a PDF and digital format on the NAU Athletics website.