FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Sophomore Lauren Weaver made a career-high 11 saves in relief to help the Northern Arizona soccer team leave Lumberjack Stadium Friday night with a 2-2 tie against Ball State. The Cardinals outshot the Lumberjacks 22-13 and held a narrow advantage in corner kicks, 5-4, but was unable to come away with the victory despite leading twice during the match.
"I'm extremely proud in the way we played tonight," said head coach Andre Luciano. "This was the first time we played a complete game from beginning to end this season. We played hard, gutted it out and I can't ask for much more. At the end of the year, hopefully luck comes our way when it counts the most."
The game got off to a rapid pace with all four goals coming in the first 18 minutes. Ball State got on the scoreboard first when freshman Hannah Chadick scored in the seventh minute. Less than two minutes later in the ninth minute, senior Sam Monahan tied the game at 1-1 on a free kick from 20 yards out.
The Cardinals took their second lead of the game in the 14th minute when junior Brigit Reder headed in a goal off a corner by junior Amanda Dreyfus, but for the second time in the game the Lumberjacks responded quickly with the equalizer. Senior Jenna Samora found the back of the net for the first time this season off a lead pass by sophomore Kathryn Wertz in the 18th minute.
"We talked about building character this year and the girls showed it," Luciano said. "We could've folded up shop, but we didn't."
Following Samora's game-tying goal, Weaver replaced junior Natasha Slaughter in goal and made several critical stops to prevent further Cardinal scoring. The game remained tied throughout the rest of regulation and into the overtime periods, before Monahan received a penalty kick in the 105th minute. But her kick was ultimately saved and the Lumberjacks settled for the tie.
"We played with a lot of heart," Weaver said. "It takes a lot of courage to come back from 1-0 and 2-1, and we fought through it."
Weaver became the seventh Lumberjack goalkeeper to record at least 11 saves in a single match.
"I thought I played well, but I couldn't have done it without my defense," Weaver said. "They were in front of me, listening to me and that's all I could ask for. As long as they listen, I'll make the saves I need to make."
The tie brought the Lumberjacks' record to 0-6-1 and they return to the field on Sunday for Day 2 of the Hilton Garden Inn High Altitude Tournament. In earlier action Friday, Evansville and Lamar also finished in a 2-2 tie after two overtimes. Lamar and Ball State will precede NAU's match against Evansville on Sunday at 10 a.m. Kickoff for the Lumberjacks' game is set for 1 p.m.