TEMPE, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's soccer team made their first NCAA College Cup appearance since 2009 as they face in-state opponent Arizona State in front of a crowd of 2,067 fans. The Lumberjacks scored two goals, the most in an NCAA College Cup game for Northern Arizona, but it was not enough as Arizona State defeated NAU 4-2 to advance in the College Cup.
"Give credit to Arizona State coaches and players," said head coach Andre Luciano. "Their forwards are so dynamic so for us I think we had a little bit of nerves and not knowing what to expect. I am really proud of my team overcoming the first five minutes
Northern Arizona history was made as junior forward Haley Wingender scored in the 12th minute, trimming Arizona State's lead 2-1. Wingender was able to grab possession in the midfield and able to dribble around her defender to create space heading towards goal. With no defenders around her 25-yards outside the box, the native of Henderson, Nev. was able to put a good strike on the ball that was placed in the lower right 90 for NAU's first goal of the game.
Wingender now holds the NAU record for most points scored in a season with 29 breaking NAU Hall of Famer Cee Cee Odorfer's record in 2008. Wingender also ties the school record for most goals scored in a season with 12 along Sierra Cristiano in 2002.
"Haley had a really good season," said Luciano. "She will be the first one to tell you that her teammates helped her out so much and her results of goals is because someone was assisting her."
Wingender's goal was the second goal ever scored for the Lumberjacks in an NCAA College Cup game.
Northern Arizona had to play catch-up the entire game as Arizona State jumped out to a 1-0 lead 25 seconds into the game. ASU's Aly Moon was able to get a flick on the ball while in the box that went past NAU's goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson. Five minutes later ASU was back on the offensive attack when Cali Farquharson crossed a ball into the box. Moon received the ball in the middle of the box and put it in the back of the net for an early 2-0 lead.
After NAU's goal from Wingender to make it 2-1, the Sun Devils regained their two-goal lead in the 42nd minute off a goal from Brianna Gonzalez. The ball was bouncing back and forth in NAU's box and Arizona State's Larisa Staub was able to come down with the ball and dish it off to Gonzalez to make it a 3-1 game going into halftime.
The Lumberjacks had two shots in the first half while Arizona State had seven shots in the first half with four in the first 15 minutes of play. The Sun Devils had three corner kicks in the first half with four shots on goal.
The Sun Devils started off hot in the 2nd half scoring a goal two minutes into the second period. Arizona State's Whitney Kanavel received a ball from Moon at the top of the box and placed a ball in the upper right 90 giving ASU the 4-1 lead.
The Lumberjacks trimmed the Sun Devils lead in the middle of the second half with a goal from Cierra Gamble in the 64th minute. Northern Arizona had the ball in Arizona State's box and Sarah Tarver passed the ball back out to Gamble who fired off a rocket from 30-yards out, placing with a goal in the opposite upper right 90 to trim ASU's lead 4-2.
"I saw the ball pop out and I saw the keeper playing off her line," said Gamble. "I knew our chances were limited so I had to take a shot and I am for the far post and it was able to go in."
Northern Arizona's soccer fans made quite the presence for NAU's NCAA tournament appearance as more than half of Sun Devil Soccer Stadium was filled with Lumberjack fans.
"We travel in bunches," said Luciano with a smile on his face. "Our fans are the best and we have a great university. We are group of gritty and tough people that will back down to nobody."
Northern Arizona ends the season with a 12-6-4 record, 5-2-3 in the Big Sky Conference and a Big Sky Championship. The Lumberjacks will say goodbye to six seniors in Savannah Berry, Diane Buzzard, Mary Harrah, Emily Roth, Malia Tano and Tarver.
"I am just really proud of where we came from," said Buzzard. "My freshman year we went 3-9-7 and then 5-9-5 my sophomore year to 11 wins my junior year and now winning a conference championship and leaving with a ring is unbelievable."