FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona soccer team kicks off its spring season on Saturday, March 2, with a doubleheader in Phoenix. The Lumberjacks will square off against Arizona State and BYU, both of whom were NCAA Tournament participants in the fall, at the Reach 11 Sports Complex Field #4.
"This is a great way for us to begin our preparation for the 2013 season," said head coach Andre Luciano. "Having two teams that have participated in the NCAA Tournament this past season as opponents will give us an accurate measuring stick of where our development is at this time from a physical, tactical and technical standpoint. I have challenged myself to prepare our student-athletes for a return to the Big Sky Conference championship, and this will be the first step in that journey."
Among the returning Lumberjacks slated for the spring season heading into the fall 2013 campaign are a trio of All-Big Sky performers in junior Lauren Weaver, sophomore Emily Roth and freshman Demi Schmieder. The three players were each named all-conference honorable mention in 2012. In all, the Lumberjacks are bringing back 13 players who started at least eight games last season in which they finished 5-9-5 overall and 3-3-3 in the Big Sky for a tie for sixth in the conference.
Arizona State finished the 2012 season fourth in the Pac-12 and made its third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. The Sun Devils fell to third-seeded Baylor, 3-1, in the opening round of the national tourney and completed the season at 10-9-2. Meanwhile, BYU was one of four teams to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and was one of the final eight teams remaining before they fell to the eventual national champion North Carolina, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. The Cougars, the defending West Coast Conference champions, ended the 2012 season ranked No. 5 in the nation with a 20-2-2 record.
Game times for NAU's spring doubleheader on Saturday in Phoenix are 12:30 (Arizona State) and 2:30 (BYU).