CHENEY, Wash. – Despite a late second half run, the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team came up short against No. 2 in the Big Sky Conference Eastern Washington University with a final score of 4-2. Northern Arizona was down 3-0 at halftime, but rallied to score two late goals which came from freshman forward Mei-Te Coco and junior forward Lindsay Doyle. The Lumberjacks drop to 7-7-1 this season and 2-3-1 in the Big Sky. Just four games remain until the Big Sky Conference Tournament Nov. 5-8.
"I have to credit Eastern Washington," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "They outplayed us and were better in every capacity, but I credit our players who came off the bench and scored our two late goals. They fought till the end."
In the first half, Eastern Washington came out of the gates firing on all cylinders with three quick shot attempts in the first 18 minutes. It was on the third attempt that EWU's Jenny Chavez headed one in for the Eagles off a corner kick assist from sophomore Chloe Williams. The Lumberjacks had a chance to knot things up just minutes later off a corner kick from senior defender Ashlynn Curnow, but sophomore defender Missy Kettelkamp's shot drilled the crossbar to keep the score at 1-0. By minute 28, NAU tied up the shot attempts at three with two more coming from senior forward Haley Wingender and senior midfielder Cierra Gamble but missed high and wide.
The 'Jacks tightened up their defense following Chavez's goal as the Eagles didn't get off their next shot attempt until roughly 12 minutes later in the 31st minute. However, they connected yet again in the 38th minute, this time from Williams who leads the Big Sky in goals this season at 10. Unfortunately for NAU, the Eagles weren't done in the first half as they nailed their third goal with 15 seconds to go in period one. This put Eastern Washington up 3-0 heading into halftime. The 'Jacks ended the first half with five shot attempts, two being on goal, to EWU's 9 attempts and six on goal.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson and sophomore Meghan Dickmann split time in this afternoon's contest. Gilbertson finished with three saves in the first half before Dickmann made her eighth appearance this season in the second half. Just about everything was clicking for the Eagles in the second half, too, as they extended the shot margin by 10 after 15 minutes of play in period two. In the 62nd minute, Tasha Luu found the back of the net to put EWU up 4-0. Out of the Eastern Washington's four goals scored, Williams either scored or assisted on the goal.
The Lumberjacks never backed down despite the Eagles' offensive prowess. Off an assist from sophomore forward Adrian Nixt, Coco scored her second goal of the season and second of her career in the 77th minute to put NAU on the board. Not long after, Doyle scored off an assist from Ashlynn Curnow with three minutes to go in the game. This cut the Eagles' lead to two. Dickmann ended the afternoon with four saves moving her season total to 27.
Northern Arizona will spend a day traveling home before they face No. 1 in the Big Sky standings University of Idaho on Sunday, Oct. 18 in Lumberjack Stadium. The 'Jacks will look to bounce back on their home turf. Kick-off is set for 12 p.m. against the Vandals.