FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's soccer team was back on the pitch Sunday against South Dakota searching for their first win of the season and the Lumberjacks delivered their first victory of the season off of an 85th minute goal from Haley Wingender to give NAU the 3-2 win over the Coyotes. The Lumberjacks are now 1-3-1 on the season.
"This was a very good test for us because offensively we had to change our mindset," said head coach Andre Luciano. "This week our girls worked so hard to do everything right on the field and off the field so they did an amazing job of coming together and getting a win."
Going into the game, Luciano was looking for his team to have more of an attacking mentality offensively hoping to generate scoring opportunities and the Lumberjacks delivered in the first half. Junior midfielder Emily Wadell scored the Lumberjacks first goal at home this season off a pass from Lindsay Doyle to give Northern Arizona the 1-0 lead in the 31st minute of the first half.
The Lumberjacks only had one shot on goal in the first half but Wadell put her strike into the back of the net to go into half for the 1-0 lead.
The Lumberjacks had to replace their goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson in the 11 minutes into the first half after suffering an injury that had to put her on the bench for the game. Freshman Meghan Dickmann came into the game to replace Gilbertson and did not allow a goal in the first half.
The offense picked up for both teams early in the second half as the Coyotes started the scoring just 40 seconds into the second half off a goal from Shannon Keller to tie the game at 1-1. Five minutes later freshman Adrian Nixt scored her first career goal as a Lumberjack off a pass from Demi Schmieder to retake the lead at 2-1. Less than a minute later South Dakota responded with a goal from Corey Strang to tie the match at 2-2.
South Dakota's goal didn't stop the Lumberjacks from putting pressure on the Coyote's defense as Schmieder forced a free kick directly outside the box, which lead to the game winner from Wingender. Off the free kick with a wall in front of her, Wingender struck the ball into the opposite upper 90 giving the preseason All-Big Sky selection her third goal of the season.
"We really fought hard as a team," said Wingender. "After the second goal from South Dakota we knew it was not going to be easy so we stepped up our game and the crowd was really great to get behind us and pull out the win."
Northern Arizona will look to carry this momentum into next week's Lumberjack Classic Tournament that they will host against Wright State and in-state rival Grand Canyon.