FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – To close out Family Weekend at Northern Arizona University, the Northern Arizona women's soccer team played their second Big Sky game of the season at home against Sacramento State. The Lumberjacks jumped on the board first in the 67th minute off a goal from Haley Wingender and NAU was able to hold on for the 1-0 win over Sacramento State for the Lumberjacks first Big Sky win of the season.
"Sacramento State is a good team," said head coach Andre Luciano. "They came out in a 3-5-2 formation, which is something we have not faced this year and early in the game it caused us some problems. They are a physical team who out-muscled us in the first half but in the second half we came out with some good adjustments. Fatigue came in and set on Sacramento State and our fitness showed in the second half, which is something we have not done on Sunday matches; we came out motivated in the second half and I am really proud of that."
Wingender was back on the offensive prowl as she put the Lumberjacks on the board in the 67th minute off a goal outside of the box. The junior from Henderson, Nev. was able to corral the ball and turn the corner on her defender for the 20-yard strike. Wingender has now recorded a point in six straight games.
"I saw that I had one defender in front of me so I knew I had to beat her in order to score," said Wingender. "I felt her on my back and I could feel myself falling over so I was able to curl around my defender and get a shot on goal."
Sunday's match against the Hornets was the most saves for NAU's goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson has recorded since the Aug. 28 matchup with the University of Arizona as she came up with six saves for the match today. Receiving significant playing time in the backline today was Mattie Wojcik as the sophomore played 63 minutes. The Lumberjack's recorded their fifth shutout of the season, which leads the Big Sky this season. That was NAU's fourth shutout in their last five matches. With the shutout, Gilbertson now has a 0.46 goals against average this season.
After coming back from injury early in the season, senior Savannah Berry saw her name in the starting lineup for the first time this season with the start in the midfield.
"It felt good to be back out there in the starting lineup," said Berry. "For me, it is important to get back in rhythm and getting back to the way I used to play, which is strong and physical."
Both offenses went back and forth in the first half as 12 shots were fired off between both teams. NAU's goalkeeper Gilbertson came up with some key saves in the first half to keep the score level as she recorded four saves in the first 45 minutes. Sacramento State's greatest chance to score was off a corner that was headed nearly in goal but was called off due to a foul committed by the Hornets.
NAU has made key adjustments going into halftime and it was the same on Sunday as the Lumberjack's increased their shot total in the second half with three more shots than the first half. NAU finished with a total of 13 shots, seven of them on goal.
The Lumberjack's best opportunity to score in the first half was off a break away from Adrian Nixt who dished it off to Wingender but Wingender's shot went wide left as the game remained scoreless.
Nixt also had a shot in the second half on goal but the Hornet's Mata came up with another key save to keep the score a 0-0.
The Lumberjacks will be back in action a week from today as they play their first Big Sky road match in Moscow, Idaho against the University of Idaho on Oct. 5.