MILWAUKEE, Wis. – For the first time in program history, Northern Arizona University women's soccer and Marquette University faced off tonight (Sept. 11) at Valley Fields in Milwaukee, Wis. for the first of two games in the Marquette Invitational. The Lumberjacks came up short against the Golden Eagles with a final score of 2-1 and dropped to 2-4-0 on the year.
"I think the biggest takeaway is that we have a good team," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "We competed against a very good Marquette squad; they were just a little bit better than us tonight."
Despite Marquette's three goals on the season coming from corner kicks, NAU's high pressure defense to start the game proved successful as the Golden Eagles were 0-4 from the corner in the first half. Throw in a few heady plays, resulting in three saves, from redshirt junior goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson and the match was even at 0-0. It wasn't until the 20th minute that Marquette found the gaps and Caroline Fink connected on her second goal of the season to make the score 1-0. The Lumberjacks remained steady and five minutes later answered. From 19 yards out, senior forward Haley Wingender found the back of the net off a free kick. This is Wingender's third straight game with a goal and her fifth goal scored this year.
Gilbertson continued to be tested in goal recording four saves in the first half alone and 11 on the night. The Golden Eagles were granted a free kick from the right edge of the goalie box in the 41st minute - made the goal - but it was revoked under the ruling of an indirect kick. The score remained 1-1 heading into halftime despite Marquette's 12 shots to NAU's four.
Within the first five minutes of the second half, Marquette's Liz Bartels took a shot at goal but Gilbertson came down with her fifth save of the evening. NAU's back line continued to find ways to keep the Golden Eagles from taking the lead. Midway through the second half, Marquette had taken three times as many shots as NAU, but the score remained even. Wingender booted the ball up field to senior midfielder Cierra Gamble in the 67th minute, but after a scramble for the ball with the Marquette goalkeeper, NAU couldn't quite finish.
With 15 minutes to go, the Golden Eagles attempted their 10th corner kick of the evening but remained scoreless off set plays. However, Marquette was able to steal the lead 2-1 in the 75th minute off an in-the-air finish by freshman Jamie Kutay. Much of the action remained on Marquette's end of the field to close out the second half, yet the stops piled in for Gilbertson and NAU's defenders.
"Natalie was very good in terms of her patience, and with that, our backs were pretty organized for a majority of the game," Luciano commented. "Marquette's second goal was unfortunate because we played it correctly. Kutay just got a great shot off on the far post."
NAU will wrap up the Marquette Invitational this Sunday, Sept. 13 against the University of Loyola Chicago. Kick-off is set for 9 a.m. Mountain Standard time.
Luciano and his squad return home to Lumberjack Stadium next weekend against North Dakota State University on Friday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 20 at noon against Robert Morris University. Both games will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona Plus.