FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's soccer team was looking for their first win of the season in their 2014 home opener on Sunday against Valparaiso. In front of 512 fans at Lumberjack Stadium, the Lumberjacks held the Crusaders scoreless for 110 minutes and both teams failed to put any goals on the board in a 0-0 tie in Flagstaff.
"We knew going into this game that Valparaiso was going to be physical and play with a lot of intensity," said head coach Andre Luciano. "The question for us was where we going to be able to match it and out work them. We had moments where we did a great job with that and we also had moments where we had big gaps and took our foot off the gas. We need to play with a lot more passion."
NAU's goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson had another solid performance in front of goal, coming up with five saves in the game; all of Gilbertson's saves were in the first half. In the last 200 minutes of play Gilbertson has allowed only one goal.
"Defensively we are more organized," said Luciano. "We are much better defensively than what we were two weeks ago, I just think we need to figure out where we are at mentally."
The Lumberjacks improved their offensive attack compared to Friday night's match against the University of Arizona. After only shot attempt against UofA, Northern Arizona fired off nine shots with four on goal. Forward Haley Wingender had a game-high three shot attempts, with one on goal. Playing for the first time this season was sophomore Ali Lixandru and received significant playing time at the forward position.
The Lumberjacks now fall to 0-3-1 during their non-conference schedule with the hopes that these games will prepare the Lumberjacks for their upcoming Big Sky schedule.
"Every game that we scheduled is supposed to prepare us for conference," said Luciano. "Valparaiso is very similar to a team like Idaho State in terms of their physicality and the formation that they play."
The Lumberjacks will have just one match this upcoming week on Sunday, Sept. 7, against South Dakota. Kickoff against the Coyotes will be at 12 p.m. at Lumberjack Stadium.