Photo Courtesy of Rick Johnson
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team dropped its third consecutive game to begin the 2012 season on Sunday, falling 3-0 to Arizona in a physical contest at Lumberjack Stadium. The teams combined for 26 fouls and four yellow cards were assessed in Sunday's match as the Lumberjacks fell to 0-3 in the young season.
"I was disappointed because I felt we were mentally soft this game," said head coach Andre Luciano. "I thought after the second goal we had a mental letdown. You can see our youth right now because we don't have the same bite our older team has and that's something we have to develop as a team."
Sophomore Savannah Berry got the action going early with a shot that went wide of the goal in the second minute, but the Wildcats struck first on the scoreboard in the eighth minute. Arizona's Sheridan Cohen took a throw in on the far side of the field and tossed in to Jazmine Ponce, who flicked it over to Susana Melendez. Melendez's ensuing header appeared to be stopped by junior Lauren Weaver, but the goal was counted due to Weaver being behind the goal line when making the stop.
The score would remain at 1-0 until the 42nd minute when Ana-Maria Montoya scored her first of two goals on the day off a free kick that bended over the outstretched hands of Weaver.
With a 2-0 lead to begin the second half, Montoya would strike for her second goal of the game in the 48th minute when she converted on another free kick following one of NAU's 19 fouls for the game. Montoya took a free kick from just inside midfield and sent it into the upper right corner of the goal for the game's third and final score.
After the early second half Arizona goal, the Lumberjacks tried to battle back in the following minutes with junior Elinor Priest and freshman Haley Wingender each putting a shot on goal. The Lumberjacks would tally six second half shots, but were unable to cut the deficit.
The Wildcats mustered a 24-9 shot advantage over the Lumberjacks for the game. Weaver, making her first start of the season, made three saves and allowed two goals in the first half, while freshman Natalie Gilbertson played the second half allowing one goal and notching six saves. Berry led NAU with three shots and Priest had two off the bench with each tallying one of the five NAU shots on goal.
"On the positive, I think we saw our true identity and it's something we can fix," Luciano said. "It's something that has to change and it has to be done pretty quickly. We've got Florida Atlantic and Oklahoma coming up and we just have to keep plugging around."
NAU heads back to Las Vegas this week for the second time this season as they'll take part in the UNLV Rebel Classic. They open up the weekend against Florida Atlantic on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and conclude the tournament against Oklahoma on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Today's match was a televised broadcast and fans can catch a replay of the broadcast this week with three scheduled replays. Fox Sports Arizona will run the broadcast on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 2 p.m. and again on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m. Fox College Sports Pacific will also run the game on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m.