FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In the first game of the 2015 Mountain Classic this evening (Sept. 18), Northern Arizona University Women's soccer defeated North Dakota State University with a final score of 4-3. The Lumberjacks move to .500 at 4-4-0 on the season and the Bison drop to 4-4-0. Tonight's victory snapped a three-game winning streak for NDSU.
"North Dakota State is a really good team and difficult to play against," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "They put a lot of pressure on us early on, but once we were able to sort out their strategies, we were okay. Kudos to our players for their second comeback win at home this season."
Senior midfielder Cierra Gamble, off a pass from senior forward Haley Wingender, recorded NAU's first shot of the game but barely missed wide. This was far from indicative of the way the night would pan out, as the Lumberjacks cranked it up a notch in the second half scoring all four goals in period two.
North Dakota State had five chances to take the lead in the first half, but sophomore goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann held off the Bison offense with three saves, two of which she laid out and blocked with one hand. She ended the night with four saves and her first career win. Olivia Norman connected on her first goal of the season for NDSU in the 32nd minute, giving the Bison a 1-0 lead at halftime.
"At halftime we talked about playing hard for each other, having unconditional support for each other and being selfless," Luciano commented. "Our players definitely did that tonight."
In the second half, freshman forward Mei-Te Coco opened up the floodgates for NAU. Off a pass from junior defender Torey Braly, she tapped one in to tie up the game after just five minutes of play. This was Coco's first career goal. It wasn't until the 70th minute the Lumberjacks would take the lead off an unassisted Gamble boot from 25 yards out that slipped through the hands of NDSU's Sierra Bonham.
Sophomore forward Adrian Nixt bumped up the Lumberjacks' lead by two just four minutes after Gamble's goal. This came off a Wingender cross pass right on target. Nixt now has four goals on the year, one behind Wingender. Despite a 3-1 lead, the game was far from over with 15 minutes remaining.
In less than a 15 minute stretch, a total of five goals were scored in tonight's contest. North Dakota's Hanna Norman and Meghan Johnston found the back of the net for NDSU to tie up the game at 3-3. The Lumberjacks were able to seal the deal with a Wingender kick from the corner, on frame, and a NDSU deflection sending the ball into the goal.
"I think tonight was definitely a confidence boost," Wingender said. "This should get the ball rolling into Sunday and then into conference play."
Northern Arizona will close out the Mountain Classic on Sunday, Sept. 20 where they will face Robert Morris University, who defeated Grand Canyon University prior to NAU's match. Kick-off is set for 12 p.m. in Lumberjack Stadium and will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona Plus.