FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – On a frigid Friday night at Lumberjack Stadium, the Northern Arizona soccer team claimed a critical victory, battling back from two deficits to defeat Idaho State, 3-2. Seniors Jenna Samora, Noel Guevara and Sam Monahan each scored second half goals to erase a 1-0 Bengal halftime lead. The win was the Lumberjacks' second of the season, but more importantly, they evened their conference record at 1-1.
"Idaho State came out guns blazing in the first half and put us under a tremendous amount pressure," said head coach Andre Luciano. "Our seniors came through, especially Noel. I told her before the game that it was time for her to step up. She's been so unlucky throughout her career and she scored a big goal for us. I'm proud of the team and I'm proud of the effort they gave, and it's good to be 1-1 in the conference."
Idaho State took a 1-0 lead into halftime courtesy of the first of two goals on the night by junior Ashley Jones. Jones received a pass from junior Rachel Strawn in the 16th minute, and shot it from the top of the box into the left side of the net. The Bengals controlled the game in the first 45 minutes, totaling seven shots to the Lumberjacks' two, and attempting four corner kicks.
The Lumberjacks responded in the 62nd minute, when senior Chelsea Bednarz's centered ball found Samora for her second goal of the season to knot the score at 1-1. Less than three minutes later, Strawn and Jones hooked up again to give the Bengals a 2-1 lead.
The lead would be short-lived, as the Lumberjacks found the equalizer for the second time of the game, 21 seconds later. Monahan sent a ball to Guevara, who shot to the goal. Idaho State's sophomore goalkeeper Carly Hutchings-Maloney initially stopped the shot, but the ball slipped away from grasp and rolled into the net. Guevara's goal was the first of her career.
After a handful of opportunities from both teams, including two narrow misses by Bednarz, the Lumberjacks netted the game-winner in the 84th minute. Off an initial corner kick by sophomore Jennifer Beaudoin, Beaudoin received the ball back and sent a ball into a pack of players in front of the net. Monahan ended up the ball and fired it into the right side of the goal for her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
"We fought really hard tonight," Guevara said. "We fought all the way to the end and that's what we've needed all season. This win was huge for us. It gives us a lift and confidence that we can carry over. We deserved the win."
NAU reversed the first half trends in the second stanza, outshooting the Bengals by a 12-7 margin in the second half. The Lumberjacks also held a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks after halftime. Bednarz tallied a team-high five shots and Samora had four of her own, three on goal. Sophomore Lauren Weaver made 10 saves, one shy of her career-high set earlier in the season against Ball State.
The win put the Lumberjacks in a four-way tie in the conference at 1-1. They return to the field on Sunday, when they host Weber State at 12 p.m. at Lumberjack Stadium. The Wildcats are one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Big Sky during conference play after knocking off Northern Colorado in overtime, 2-1 Friday night in Greeley, Colo.