FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In what seems like the blink of an eye, the Northern Arizona University women's soccer season is drawing to an end with just one home game left on the Lumberjacks' 2015 regular season slate. Tomorrow (Oct. 25), NAU will celebrate its 11 graduating seniors before taking on the Weber State Wildcats at noon. Head Coach Andre Luciano is certain the class of 2015 has left its imprint in more ways than one.
"This group is special because they won a championship," Luciano said. "I think what really sets them apart is that they have all had to play big roles for four years. They have played a lot of games together and have gone through a lot of injuries together. When you look back, you have some players that have done some incredible things individually, but collectively, they rebuilt the program and put us back on a national stage. I'm really proud of them for that."
If things ever got tough, Braly always tells herself, "Don't let anything break your stride." Her hard-nosed demeanor landed her a handful of accolades despite sitting out her freshman season to injury. Braly has played in 56 games with 29 career starts and was named to the Big Sky All-Tournament team last season. She has proved to be one of the most versatile and gifted athletes to ever come through NAU's soccer program with experience at nearly every position in her four years.
"Thank you to my parents for being the best out there," Braly said. "Thank you for always encouraging me to do whatever makes my heart happy."
"Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory" (Dr. Seuss).
Curnow has been a consistent force on the defensive end for the Lumberjacks the last several years. She has started all 17 contests this season adding to her 40 career starts total and 60 games played in four years. Last season, she was part of a defense that locked in nine shutouts and a .99 goals against average. Curnow is also a 2014 All-Big Sky Honorable Mention selection and a one-time Big Sky All-Academic selection.
"I would like to thank my grandmother for being one of the most influential people in my life," Curnow said.
Over the span of four years, Doud landed herself a key role on NAU's roster. After just playing in four games her freshman and sophomore seasons, she appeared in all but one game last year and has started in 11 of 17 games in 2015. Doud was also a 2014 Big Sky All-Academic selection.
"I would like to thank my family, soccer sisters and the coaching staff for supporting me throughout this four-year journey," Doud said. "I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been given as a college athlete. These experiences have allowed me to grow as both a player and person. I will cherish the memories that I have made with this team for the rest of my life."
"The task ahead of you is never as great as the strength within in you" (Unknown).
Gamble has been an impact player during her four years for the Lumberjacks appearing in an impressive 72 of 77 total games since 2012. Gamble's career has brought about 13 goals and 10 assists for 36 points, finding her way into the Top 10 career points and goals in program history. Her sophomore year, she was named All-Big Sky First Team, College Sports Madness All-Big Sky First Team and NSCAA All-Pacific Region Second Team. In both her sophomore and junior seasons, Gamble claimed Big Sky All-Tournament team honors in addition to making the All-Big Sky Second Team last season.
"I'd like to thank my parents for their love and support, whether it's being at a game across the country or talking me through a tough time," Gamble expressed. "I'd also like to thank my current teammates and those that I have had throughout the years at NAU for the endless amount of memories."
Las Vegas, Nev.
"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" (Haruki Murakami).
Gonzalez is one of several seniors who have been plagued with the injury bug, but regardless, has shown glimpses of sheer talent in the time she's spent in an NAU uniform. In her debut season, she played in all 19 games and started in 13 including all nine conference contests. Gonzalez was also a 2012 Big Sky All-Academic selection. This year, she has played in four games with one start and connected on her second career goal against Robert Morris on Sept. 20.
"I'd like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for helping me overcome the adversities that I faced as a student-athlete during my four years at NAU," Gonzalez said. "They've taught me that my struggles can lead to strength and for that I'll always be grateful."
McLean obtained a medical hardship waiver after battling injuries in her first year.
"It has been a crazy four years at NAU and I would not trade them for anything," McLean said. "I am so grateful for the experience I had that allowed me to grow and learn. I want to thank my team or sisters for their constant encouragement, endless laughs and crazy adventures that I'm so grateful for; my coaches who taught me a ton, never gave up on me and helped me through tough decisions; my athletic trainers who put in countless hours and put up with my sass; and my family who is always there for me and has supported me all along this journey. This has been a sweet time, where I have been surrounded by amazing people in this beautiful place I have had the blessing to call home."
Pate obtained a medical hardship waiver after battling injuries in her first year.
"I have gone through a lot of obstacles at NAU, but with the love and support from my family, friends and my NAU family, I have conquered them," Pate noted. "I want to thank my parents for giving me all of the love and support over the years because I wouldn't be here today without them. Thank you NAU athletics as well for giving me this opportunity and giving me a family away from home. I will cherish the memories and sisters I have gained during the last four years. I am proud to be a Lumberjack!"
Sebald walked on to the team in 2012 and never turned back. She has played in 10 games for the Lumberjacks and earned her first career start this season against Robert Morris University on Sept. 20. She also recorded a career high 35 minutes in that game.
"Being a walk-on to the NAU soccer team has been the most challenging experience I've had in my life, but it has also taught me so many important lessons," Sebald expressed. "Never allow anyone to tell you that you can't do something, and don't forget why you began playing the game in the first place. I am so thankful to my parents for supporting me through every season, in both my good times and bad. I couldn't have done it without them!"
San Diego, Calif.
"Persevere, overcome, excel" (Tom Sherwin).
Despite a season-ending injury in the 2014 campaign, Sherwin has found tremendous success in her time on the field for the Lumberjacks. She played in all 19 games with four starts in her inaugural season and recorded one game-winning assist against Weber State. The following year, Sherwin appeared in every game once again but exploded for three goals and one assist for seven points. This year she has appeared in 10 games and started in half of them. She is also a two-time Big Sky All-Academic selection.
"I'd like to thank my family for supporting me through all the ups and downs that this game has brought me over the years and for never discouraging me from my dreams," Sherwin said. "I'd also like to thank my coaches and teammates for making my experience at NAU what it was. You have all been an integral part of the woman I am today."
"So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference" (Thomas S. Monson).
Wadell has been another significant player in the Lumberjack lineup. She has appeared in 62 games and made her way into the starting lineup 48 times in the last four years. Her career totals stand at three goals and two assists for 11 points. Last season, Wadell was named to the Big Sky All-Tournament team after cashing in Northern Arizona's first goal against Idaho State in the Big Sky Championship game. The senior is also a two-time Big Sky All-Academic honoree.
"I am thankful for my family, coaches and teammates who have helped me achieve my goals throughout my soccer career," Wadell said.
"It never gets easier, you just get better" (Unknown).
It is no secret that Wingender has been a marquee player for the Lumberjacks over the last four years. She is currently ranked in the Top 10 in NAU women's soccer program history in five statistical categories: points (73), goals (30), assists (13), game-winning goals (10) and shots (163). Wingender has played in 70 games since 2012, starting in 50 of them. In her sophomore season, she was named All-Big Sky Second Team and College Sports Madness All-Big Sky First Team. A year later, she claimed First Team All-Big Sky, Third Team NSCAA All-Pacific Region, Big Sky Tournament MVP and Big Sky All-Tournament Team honors. Additionally, she broke the individual season record for career points with a staggering 29 in the 2014 campaign. This year she has connected on a team-best 11 goals and assisted on four for 26 points.
"Thank you to my parents, teammates and coaches for everything they have done throughout my soccer career," Wingender said.
"I challenged this group the spring after their freshmen year," Luciano said. "They responded fantastically; they finished second in the conference, got us back into the conference tournament and then last year took us to the NCAA tournament. That really shows their ability to deal with adversity and move forward."
Be sure to catch the seniors and the rest of the Lumberjacks in action tomorrow at noon in their last regular season game of the 2015 season.