FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – This weekend, four teams will take part in the 2015 Northern Arizona University women's soccer Mountain Classic in Lumberjack Stadium. Kicking off the action will be Grand Canyon University and Robert Morris University on Friday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. Following this game, the Lumberjacks will face North Dakota State University for their first match of the tournament set to begin at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 20 NAU will play Robert Morris at noon to finish out the weekend.
Both games will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and tickets will be $5 each day but are good for both sessions.
The Lumberjacks returned from the Marquette Invitational where they went 1-1 with a 3-0 win over the University of Loyola Chicago. Sophomore forward Adrian Nixt nailed two of NAU's three goals, moving her season total up to three. She is two behind senior forward Haley Wingender who is third in the conference with five goals through seven games. Nixt, Wingender and senior midfielder Cierra Gamble were each named to the Marquette Invitational All-Tournament Team. Nixt was the lone sophomore to claim this honor alongside 10 other juniors and seniors.
Holding down NAU's back line are senior defenders Ashlynn Curnow and Torey Braly, redshirt junior starting goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson and sophomore Missy Kettelkamp. Kettelkamp recorded her first career goal against Loyola. Sophomore goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann also saw some action this past weekend and recorded seven of NAU's 10 total saves in the second half alone.
North Dakota State
The Bison stand at 4-3-0 this season and have faced several high-caliber opponents including Minnesota and Wisconsin who was ranked 14th at the time. They were edged by the Badgers in overtime, but their most recent win was against Big 12 foe Iowa State University. NDSU has won four of its last five games and are currently on a three-game winning streak.
"North Dakota State is coming off a big win against Iowa State and have a lot of momentum coming into this weekend," Luciano said.
Leading the way for the Bison again this year are Miller and Yang. Miller has six goals on the year while Yang has three goals and four assists. Through Sept. 13, Miller is ranked 18th in the country in goals at .857 per game. NAU's Wingender is not far behind at .714 per game, good for 45th on the NCAA Division I national scale.
"They have had a lot of success this year in terms of scoring goals," Luciano said. "They are a very attacking-oriented team so we have to be aware of their shape and formation."
One of nine teams in the Northeast Conference, Robert Morris was preseason ranked eighth and is currently 2-5-0 this season with wins over Youngstown State University and Canisius College. The Colonials return Kayla Kelley who had a stellar rookie season making both the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team and First Team All-Northeast as a defender. She started all 19 games her freshman year recording one goal on eight shot attempts.
Leading the way offensively for RMU is junior midfielder Antonia Grese and redshirt senior forward Cassie Raymond who each have two goals after seven games. Accounting for the Colonials' remaining three goals this year are senior forward Madison Kozlowski, junior midfielder Theresa Laux and sophomore midfielder Gabrielle Corrente. Kristie Hamilton has assisted on three of the Colonials' seven goals.
"Robert Morris' coach John Kowalski has been around for a while and I have a lot of respect for him," Luciano said. "I know he and his team won't be surprised by anything they see against us."
This weekend wraps up the non-conference season for the Lumberjacks and they will hit the road for the start of conference play next week. They have a two-game road swing at Sacramento State on Friday, Sept. 25 and at Portland State on Sunday, Sept. 27.