FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Both the Northern Arizona University and Grand Canyon University women's soccer teams were voted among the top of their conferences in the preseason polls. The two teams will face off for the fourth time in school history in Phoenix on Friday, Aug. 21 at GCU Soccer Field.
"I think this is a really important game for us because Grand Canyon had a fantastic finish to their season last year," head coach Andre Luciano said. "It's a good non-conference game because it will replicate what we will deal with in Big Sky opponents."
The Lumberjacks will look to continue their perfect streak of 3-0-0 against the Lopes. Last season, NAU captured a 2-0 victory at Lumberjack Stadium with goals by sophomore forwards Anna Goebel and Adrian Nixt. The two will return to the Lumberjack offensive rotation alongside seniors Cierra Gamble and Lauren Doud, juniors Lindsay Doyle, Mattie Wojcik, Nicole Sherwin and Ali Lixandru, and freshmen Madeline Waszak, Chantal Deroos, Mei-Te Coco and Haleigh Van Allen. Offensive powerhouse and senior forward Haley Wingender will lead the way in her final season as a Lumberjack.
Wingender finished second in the Big Sky Conference in goals with 12, second in points per game at 1.32 and tied for third in shots with 64. She is currently on record watch for individual career points, goals, game-winning goals, shots and assists. Natalie Gilbertson, the Lumberjacks' starting goalkeeper, too is creeping her way up the record books in career saves (104) and shutouts (11).
The Lopes are entering just their third season as a Division I program led by head coach Stevie Gill. Under Gill's direction, GCU caught fire late in the 2014 season as they won seven of their last eight matches. The Lopes return all four 2014 all-conference selections in goalkeeper Blakely Fraasch (WAC Freshmen of the Year), junior forward Maria Monterroso (All-WAC First Team), junior midfielder Taylor Layton (All-WAC Second Team) and sophomore defender Jessica Valadez (All-WAC Second Team). Sophomore Milla Benedetti will also return for the Lopes who tallied seven goals at forward last year.
"It's going to be a high-intensity, a lot of emotions type of game," Luciano said.
Two Arizona squads, returning a lot of talent and experience, will battle it out for their first game of the 2015-16 campaign. Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m.