MISSOULA, Mont. – After a double overtime battle in Missoula, Mont., the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team finished in a draw against the University of Montana Grizzlies with a final score of 0-0 in South Campus Stadium this afternoon (Oct. 4). Long story short, it was a hard-nosed matchup between the 2014 Big Sky Regular Season Champions and the 2014 Big Sky Tournament Champions. The Lumberjacks are now 6-5-1 on the year and 1-1-1 in the Big Sky.
"I'm really proud of our team and how hard we fought," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "It's really important to pick up points on the road and we did that."
In the first half of the Lumberjacks' third conference contest of 2015, NAU had seven shot attempts to Montana's one after 30 minutes of play. Between NAU's dangerous offensive rhythm and its back line containing sophomore goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann, sophomore Missy Kettelkamp, junior Danny Muniz and seniors Torey Braly and Ashlynn Curnow, the Grizzlies struggled to find their momentum in period one. Northern Arizona had several dangerous looks coming from freshman forward Mei-Te Coco and junior forward Lindsay Doyle that resulted in saves for UM's goalie Kayli Norman.
In the Grizzlies' win over Southern Utah on Friday, Oct. 2, they had 25 shot attempts on the evening. The Lumberjacks finished the first period with nine shot attempts, four on goal, and UM would need 24 more attempts in the second half to match its previous performance. This is the second time this season Northern Arizona has held a team to one shot in a single period, the last time being at home against Alabama State on Sept. 4.
"I don't think traveling to Montana is easy given a 14-hour travel day, but we came out and controlled the tempo in the first half," Luciano said.
The Lumberjacks would pick up right where they left off to open up the second half. Senior forward Haley Wingender and Doyle would get two looks within the first four minutes but both came up short. The Griz broke free on multiple occasions, however the Lumberjacks' back line came up big each time as they only had one shot on goal of two attempts. In the 71st minute, NAU had arguably their best look of the afternoon off a pass from junior Nicole Sherwin in the goalie box to Wingender although she missed wide.
"Montana had a great sense of urgency in the second half," Luciano commented. "They were really pressing us, but we still had a chance to win it."
As the second half winded down, Montana inched their way back offensively with five straight shots in roughly a 12-minute stretch trying to break through the Lumberjack defense. The tables turned in period two as UM had eight looks at goal to NAU's four, yet regulation play remained scoreless and the 'Jacks headed into their fourth overtime match of the season.
The Griz would add two more shots to their game total in OT but couldn't quite connect after 10 minutes of what would be the first of two overtimes. The second overtime looked a lot like the first with two additional shot attempts from UM, missing wide and high, and the Lumberjacks continuing to fend off the Montana attackers.
Not even 110 minutes was enough to separate the reigning regular season and tournament champions as NAU finished with the double OT tie, which is their first of the 2015 campaign. Last season, the game between the Lumberjacks and the Grizzlies ended in identical fashion in Lumberjack Stadium.
Northern Arizona returns home next weekend playing the University of Northern Colorado on Friday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. and the University of North Dakota on Sunday, Oct. 11 at noon. Friday's match will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Sunday's can be found on Fox Sports Arizona.
"We have two really tough opponents in front of us," Luciano said. "But we're excited to come home, recover and make the best of it."