FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After two big wins this past weekend, Northern Arizona University women's soccer will take on the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds in their last regular season appearance of 2015. With wins over Idaho State and Weber State, the Lumberjacks currently sit at sixth place in the Big Sky standings. A win over Southern Utah will mean a spot in the Big Sky Tournament taking place Nov. 5-7.
"Southern Utah is a team that has always played with a lot of emotion," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "They have a tendency to come out and beat some very good teams including Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington. By no means are we going to overlook them. This is in fact the biggest game of the year for us."
Big Sky Breakdown
There are already five teams who have secured a post-season appearance including Idaho (9-0), Eastern Washington (6-2-1), Northern Colorado (6-2-1), Montana (5-4-1) and Weber State (5-4). The Lumberjacks sit at sixth with 13 points; two points behind Weber State and one point ahead of Sacramento State. A win is worth three points, a tie is worth one and a loss is worth no points. Only the top six teams qualify.
- Idaho (27 points)
- Eastern Washington (19 points)
- Northern Colorado (19 points)
- Montana (16 points)
- Weber State (15 points)
- Northern Arizona (13 points)
- Sacramento State (12 points)
- Southern Utah (10 points)
- Portland State (9 points)
- North Dakota (7 points)
- Idaho State (0 points)
After Friday, all teams will be finished with conference play. Eastern Washington will face Idaho, Northern Colorado will face North Dakota, Portland State will play Sacramento State, Weber State will play Idaho State and Montana has already completed their conference season.
-A Lumberjack win over Southern Utah: a potential fifth or sixth place seed to the tournament. If Weber State loses, the 'Jacks will be the fifth place seed.
-A Lumberjack tie with Southern Utah: a potential sixth place seed to the tournament, but only if Sacramento State loses.
-A Southern Utah win over Northern Arizona: NAU and SUU would be tied with 13 points, but SUU would win the head-to-head for the sixth place seed if Sacramento State loses. In this instance, NAU would be edged out of the tournament.
The 8-8-1 Thunderbirds, 3-5-1 in the Big Sky, have hung with the best this season with wins over two of the top three teams in the Big Sky in UNC and EWU. Southern Utah is 3-1-1 on its home turf with several offensive threats in sophomore midfielder Abby Flandro and Ally Thimsen. Flandro was an All-Big Sky Second Team selection last season, while Thimsen has a current team-best seven goals at forward.
"There's a lot on the line for both teams," Luciano noted. "We have to be mindful of players like Aly Thimsen and Abby Flandro and understand that we're going to get into a physical battle against them."
Southern Utah is also playing for a shot at a post-season appearance. Despite being preseason picked 10th, the Thunderbirds have put themselves in a solid position to qualify for the Big Sky Championships. With four all-conference returners, in addition to freshman forward Paige Robins who has four goals and two assists this season, the 'Jacks will have their hands full come Friday.
"We've talked a lot this last week about competing and accepting the challenge to compete," Luciano said. "We lacked a certain sense of urgency at times this season, but this team has done a really good job of responding in the last seven days."
Kick-off is set for 3 p.m. MST at Thunderbird Soccer Field.