FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – This evening (Oct. 23), the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team snagged their fourth conference win of the season over the Idaho State Bengals in Lumberjack Stadium. With a pair of goals from senior forward Haley Wingender, the 'Jacks crept past the Bengals with a final score of 2-1. Northern Arizona moves to 8-8-1 this season and is now 3-4-1 in the Big Sky with just two more games remaining in the regular season.
"Everyone just played really hard for each other and sacrificed for each other," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "I thought our movement off the ball was fantastic tonight."
The Lumberjacks' intensity reached new heights after dropping a pair of games last weekend. They outshot Idaho State 23 to nine on the evening and 15 to three in the first half. Although the Bengals decreased the shot margin in the second period, NAU held on tight, much in part to redshirt junior goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson's five saves and scrappy play from defenders Danny Muniz, Ashlynn Curnow, Missy Kettelkamp and Torey Braly. In period one, Wingender got things going with a shot in the sixth minute followed up by a Cierra Gamble bomb that resulted in an ISU save a minute later. Wingender ended the night with five shots alongside sophomore forward Adrian Nixt.
Junior forward Lindsay Doyle also had three looks for NAU and set up a great play on Wingender's third attempt, but missed wide, from deep in Lumberjack territory. In the 24th minute, Wingender connected on her 10th goal this season off an assist from Curnow. Curnow launched a deep cross pass on target and the senior was able to head it in after ISU's goalie stepped out. This put Northern Arizona up 1-0 and the rest was history. Wingender would strike again four minutes later, this time off a double assist from Doyle and Nixt. Wingender is just one goal away from tying her season-best 12 goals.
The Bengals were able to sneak in their lone goal of the game with nearly 10 minutes to go in the first half. Heading into halftime with a score of 2-1, Northern Arizona never backed down despite a few ISU looks, two of which hit the crossbar, which could have easily tied up the game late in the second half. In the 54th minute, freshman forward Mei-Te Coco set up a break away look for Nixt but the sophomore's slow roller past ISU's goalkeeper fell just inches wide. Freshman defender Alexis Moest had arguably the best look of the second half, with less than seven minutes to go, as her ball ricocheted off the crossbar and Gamble was there to follow but couldn't quite connect.
"Our players played hard for each other and I think that was the difference," Luciano said. "They created opportunities for each other and responded to what we asked of them during the week. It was good to have a competitive game all the way through to prepare us for what's ahead."
Northern Arizona will take on a hot Weber State squad who has now won four straight games on Sunday, Oct. 25. Sunday also marks the last home game of the 2015 regular season campaign where the Lumberjacks' 11 graduating seniors will be recognized beforehand. Kick-off is set for noon MST in Lumberjack Stadium.