PORTLAND, Ore. – After allowing a Portland State goal 54 seconds into the game, the Northern Arizona soccer team battled back and held on for a 1-1 tie with the Vikings on Sunday, in large part to the play of sophomore Lauren Weaver. Weaver equaled her career-high of 11 saves to preserve the tie despite the Vikings' overwhelming 23-4 shot advantage over the Lumberjacks. NAU upped their record in the Big Sky to 1-1-3 and sits in sixth place, two points outside of the top four, with one weekend remaining in the season.
"The team has grown up a lot over the last three months," said head coach Andre Luciano. "They're showing their resilience and their character. Anytime you go down that early and you're battling back, it takes a lot out of you. But I'm proud of our girls. There's not much more I can ask from them from an effort and guts standpoint. We realize we're still in the hunt for a conference berth."
Following Portland State's senior Kala Renard's goal to put the Vikings ahead 1-0, the Lumberjacks found the equalizer in the 20th minute. Seniors Jenna Samora and Sam Monahan teamed up for their second goal scoring play of the weekend, when Monahan's pass found Samora for a one-on-one past the keeper into the lower right corner of the goal.
But the Lumberjacks found very few scoring opportunities from that point as the Vikings dominated the offensive possession from that point forward. Portland State outshot NAU in every period, including by a 15-1 margin after the first half. Weaver was stellar in goal though, denying the Vikings of another score, making six saves in little over a 10-minute span late in the second half.
"First I have to talk about the defense," Luciano said. "Our backs played unbelievable today. They were under a lot of pressure and Weaver came up with the saves she needed to."
Senior Chelsea Bednarz had two of the Lumberjacks' four shots, including their only shot in the final 65 minutes of play. Samora's goal was her second in as many games and third in the last four matches.
Sunday's overtime match was the Lumberjacks' ninth of the season, just two shy of the NCAA mark for overtime games in a season. The tie was their seventh, breaking the Big Sky record for most ties in a season, previously held by Idaho State in 2007.
The Lumberjacks conclude their regular season next weekend with a rare home and away split. They take on Montana, currently one point ahead of NAU in the conference standings, in Missoula, Mont. on Friday at 2 p.m. before returning home for their regular season finale and Senior Day against Eastern Washington at 12 p.m. on Sunday.