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October 26, 2012

Soccer Fights Back, Drops 3-2 Stunner on Senior Night to CSUB

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team fought back from a 2-0 deficit, but CSU Bakersfield played spoiler on a frigid Senior Night at Lumberjack Stadium, stunning the Lumberjacks, 3-2, in overtime. Friday night's match marked the final games in the careers of seniors Georgia Foltz, Laura Johnson and Jessica Kettelkamp, as the Lumberjacks concluded their 2012 season with a 5-9-5 record – a two-win improvement from a year ago.

"This team hasn't quit in any game this year and it's a mark of their character, that they came back from 2-0 to make it 2-2," said head coach Andre Luciano. "The end of the game was a perfect recap of our season; just a little short. But big things can be expected of this team next year."

Despite an overwhelming 11-3 shot advantage in the first 45 minutes, the Lumberjacks headed into overtime down a goal after the Roadrunners' Emily Noethe put a shot past junior Lauren Weaver into the upper left 90 in the 37th minute. Among the NAU opportunities came a pair off the foot of Foltz, who narrowly missed her first career goal in her final game on two occasions in the first half. In the 33rd minute, Foltz launched a free kick that nicked the crossbar and later in the 39th minute, her perfectly-placed high-arching shot just ticked off the fingertips of CSUB's Tori Ornela.

The Roadrunners pushed their advantage out to 2-0 just minutes into the second half, when Noethe connected on her second goal of the game. In the 48th minute, Noethe received a lead ball from Jordan Taylor and then pushed her shot into the back of the net on an eventual 1v1. The 2-0 lead would not hold for long as the Lumberjacks roared back with a pair of goals in the 57th and 65th minute. First, junior Shawnee Morgan connected on her first goal of her career as she put a ball fed by sophomore Savannah Berry into the far post. Berry then followed with her own goal, also the first of her career, for the equalizer as she bent a kick from the far corner off the outstretch hand of Ornela into the goal. Morgan's score snapped NAU's home scoring drought at 526:25 minutes, dating back to freshman Demi Schmieder's goal on Sept. 21 against Southern Utah.

With the score knotted up at 2-2, the game headed to overtime where Berry got a pair of shots on goal in the 92nd minute, only to be denied by Ornela. This set the stage for CSUB's Chloe Varvell, who would stun the Lumberjacks in the 94th minute with a ball from 35 yards out right into the upper 90 for the game-winner.

"Our team chemistry this year has been unbelievable," Berry said. "We wanted it for each other on Senior Night. I don't think we were that aggressive towards goal all season, but we just wanted that win. Playing for the seniors was an adrenaline rush in itself."

The Lumberjacks posted a season-high 20 shots and held the Roadrunners to 10. They also held the advantage in corner kicks, 9-2, which also marked a season-high for NAU. In addition to her goal and assist on Friday, Berry also tallied a career-high 10 shots, one shy of the school-record for a single contest, and in the process became just the third Lumberjack to notch double-digit shots in a game.

Weaver made five saves on the night and finished the season with 90, which ties the ninth-best total in school history, while her season goals against average of 1.16 is the third lowest in program history. She will enter her senior season in 2013, fourth all-time in saves with 226, 97 short of the career mark.

With Foltz, Johnson and Kettelkamp departing, Weaver will be one of 26 Lumberjacks that are slated to return next year, 10 of which started 10-plus games this season. Schmieder ended the season with a team-high 10 points, three goals and four assists.

"Tonight showed how much fight we have, how much emotion and how we refuse to give up," said Foltz, who ended her career tied for second in matches played (79) and tied for fourth in matches started (73) in school history. "That's what I love about this team; we have girls that will fight no matter what. They got a wicked shot off and it's a bummer that we didn't get it. There's not much we can do about it and it just didn't roll our way this time. It was the epitome of our season, but I'm excited for them next year."