FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – On Sunday, the Northern Arizona women's soccer team punched their ticket to the NCAA College Cup with a 2-1 win in the Big Sky Conference Championship over Idaho State. Today, they anxiously waited to see who they would face in the first round of the NCAA College Cup. Lumberjack fans and the team gathered at Majerle's Sports Grill to watch the selection show and on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. Northern Arizona will face Arizona State.
"I think when you get to this point of the season everybody is excited to be here," said head coach Andre Luciano. "I think that it is great that our players get to travel down to Tempe with support from our friends and family. This is just another game and we have to treat this one game at a time."
The Lumberjacks faced Arizona State in their first game of the season this year in an exhibition match on the campus of ASU West.
"This game will be a great test of how much we have grown this season," said junior forward Haley Wingender. "We played them in our first game and now it is time to see how far we have come this season."
This is the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Lumberjacks since 2009 and third overall. Luciano has led the Lumberjacks to all three of NAU's Big Sky titles. Northern Arizona was picked to finish third in the Big Sky preseason coaches' poll and the Lumberjacks finished the regular season in third place with a 9-5-4 record.
Going into the Big Sky Championships as the No. 3 seed, the Lumberjacks would have to win three straight in order to hoist the trophy and NAU delivered. NAU started off in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory over the No. 6 seed Eastern Washington and punched their ticket to the championship match with a 2-1 upset victory over the No. 2 seed Portland State. It took two goals in 90 minutes in 37 degree weather with rain showers on a slick playing field to come out as Big Sky Champions. Northern Arizona delivered two goals coming from Emily Wadell and Wingender as the Lumberjacks defeated the No. 5 seed Idaho State to take home the Big Sky title.
"This is what we have been working towards the past four years," said senior midfielder Savannah Berry. "All the hard work we have put in this season has paid off and now we have to focus and prepare for Arizona State."
Nine Lumberjacks earned All-Big Sky Conference selections with two First Team selections in Sarah Tarver and Wingender. Cierra Gamble made Second Team All-Big Sky, while Berry, Buzzard, Ashlynn Curnow, Gilbertson, Adrian Nixt and Demi Schmieder were all named honorable mention.
In the previous two NCAA tournament appearances, Northern Arizona faced the national runner-up, No. 1 seed, Stanford, 2-0. In 2008, The Lumberjacks faced Portland and fell to the No. 2 seed in the tournament, 6-1.
The Lumberjacks currently sit with 12 wins, which tied for the most wins in a season in school history tying the 2010 and 2008 squads.
Stay tuned on www.nauathletics.com for ticket information.