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June 17, 2014

Champion in Flagstaff & Finland

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In 2008 the Northern Arizona women's soccer team claimed the school's first Big Sky Championship and midfielder Sam Monahan was a part of the Lumberjack squad. Monahan has continued her playing career overseas in Finland and the former NAU star has continued her winning ways as her team in Finland, FC Honka Naiset, claimed the Finnish Cup with a 2-1 victory in extra time.

The third time was a charm for Monahan as the former First-Team All-Big Sky Selection hoisted the trophy in her third season with FC Honka Naiset.

"Last year we were knocked out in the Semis and our goal was to get back into the finals and win it," said Monahan who played at Northern Arizona from 2008-11. "The way we defended won us the match. Our back line was incredible and they were even able to get us both goals. I hope this game will boost our confidence as a team and carry over into the next part of season where we can focus now on winning the league." 

Nobody is happier than Monahan's success on the pitch than her former head coach at Northern Arizona, Andre Luciano.

 "I have always said that Sam is one the best pure soccer players to ever play at NAU," said Luciano. "I knew she could have a playing career and she has worked so hard coming back to work out in Flagstaff every winter. It shows her commitment to becoming a professional and it is an awesome experience for her to play overseas and obtain some hardware." 

The motto is true for Luciano's program that Monahan and all former players are "Jacks 4 Life." Monahan continues to work on her game with her former college coach when she returns to the States on the same pitch where she became an all-time NAU great.

"It is always nice to have a place to come back to and train at in Flagstaff," said Monahan. "Coach allowing me to train and work with the NAU soccer program allows me to stay fit and sharp with the ball for the upcoming season. Coach understands that I am always trying to improve my game and I am extremely grateful that he and the NAU soccer staff have helped me along the way."

Monahan had a dream of continuing her playing career after NAU and Luciano did everything in his power to help achieve that dream.  

"The amount of teams in the U.S. is so small so we encourage our players to play overseas," said Luciano. "With the connections we have overseas, we will continue to try and help them. Our goal is to have our players have success in the classroom and on the field for the four years they are in Flagstaff and if they wish to continue their playing career overseas or in the U.S. we will do everything we can."

No matter how far Finland is from Flagstaff, Ariz. Monahan has always felt the love back home in the States, which makes playing the game of soccer even more special.

"Having that support is amazing because to me it defines how special it can be, the relationships we gain from playing the game," said the former four-time All-Big Sky selection. "Even though I have been out of college now three years we still can maintain a relationship like a family would. I love that I can come back and train with the girls and hear how things are going with the team, as well as sharing my experience here in Finland with them." 

Monahan is just one more story that proves that these soccer players are "Jacks 4 life."