FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – This afternoon (Oct. 18), the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team dropped their fourth conference contest of the 2015 campaign to the current league leader University of Idaho who has now won seven straight games and remains undefeated in Big Sky play. The Lumberjacks gave up four goals in the first half and could not bounce back despite Haley Wingender's lone goal for NAU and her ninth this season. Posting a final score of 4-1 in Lumberjack Stadium, Northern Arizona drops to 7-8-1 on the season and 2-4-1 in conference games.
"Idaho did a good job of pressing us and we had a hard time keeping possession of the ball," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "We have to continue fighting for this season. There are a lot of positive things that we see from our players, and I think the most important thing is that we learn from this post-championship slump."
The Vandals' Olivia Baggerly scored a dagger of a goal off a free kick early in the first half to give Idaho its first lead of the game in the eighth minute. Baggerly's first attempt in that quick stretch bounced off the cross bar back into her possession and she was able to slide the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann. Dickmann finished the half with three saves before redshirt junior Natalie Gilbertson would take over in the second half. Idaho's remaining three goals came in the 22nd, 27th and 36th minutes from three different players, one being Kavita Battan who now has nine goals this season.
"I thought Missy Kettelkamp, Ashlynn Curnow and Torey Braly did a great job of limiting Battan even though she had a goal," Luciano said." I also look at how hard seniors like Cierra [Gamble] battled and that's good to see. This just goes to show our team that nothing comes easy."
The Lumberjacks had several key looks from junior forward Lindsay Doyle, senior midfielder Cierra Gamble and a header attempt from freshman forward Haleigh Van Allen in period one. In the 20th minute, off a pass from sophomore forward Adrian Nixt, Doyle was the closest to cracking NAU's scoring drought, but Idaho's goalie made an impressive leap to record one of her eight saves on the afternoon. The Vandals proved to be rather dangerous on set plays as two of their four goals came off of corner kicks in the first half.
The pace of the second half slowed up significantly as the Vandals had just two looks at goal compared to their 12 shot attempts in the first half. Northern Arizona ended up edging Idaho in shot attempts by one with 15, but only connected on one from Wingender late in the second half. Wingender's unassisted goal came with four minutes remaining in regulation. She was able to juke her defender from the left side of the goalie box and launched the ball deep into the right side of the net, giving Idaho's goalkeeper no chance at making the save.
The Lumberjacks only have three games remaining on their conference slate starting with Idaho State (Oct. 23) and Weber State (Oct. 25) at home next weekend. They will wrap up the conference season at Southern Utah on Oct. 30 before the Big Sky Championships Nov. 5-8 where only the top six teams will earn their shot at a postseason run.