Lumberjack Soccer Heads to Vegas for 2016 UNLV Invitational

Lumberjack Soccer Heads to Vegas for 2016 UNLV Invitational

Game Notes

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After a split weekend falling to Utah Valley and beating the Aggies of New Mexico State 1-0, the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team looks to continue its win streak at the 2016 UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend, Aug. 26-28. Head Coach Andre Luciano and the Lumberjacks will face UNLV on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. before closing out the weekend with a neutral match against UC Davis on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 10:30 a.m.

"Over the last few days, we've just stressed getting better and improving upon the little things," Luciano said. "We started organizing matchups in the back and playing a little tighter in our last game against New Mexico State. If we can continue to make these strides, be a little more possession oriented and improve our shots on goal percentage, we will be in good shape."

The Scout

UNLV

Day: Friday, Aug. 26

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Las Vegas, Nev. (Peter Johann Memorial Field)

Coverage: Live Stats | Mountain West Live Video Stream | Live Tweets

The last time NAU took down the Rebels was in 1999. The 'Jacks did beat UNLV in spring ball, but are still searching for their first win in over 15 years in the regular season. The Rebels, part of the Mountain West Conference, are a perfect 2-0 at the start of the 2016 campaign with wins over Farleigh Dickinson and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi this past weekend. Tabbed 8th in the Mountain West preseason polls, UNLV returns a total of 18 letterwinners from 2015 – eight of which were starters.

"UNLV will be a very confident opponent coming of their wins this past weekend," Luciano said. "They obviously have a proven goal-scorer in Michaela Morris, and defensively, they had a strong weekend as well. We know what we're getting into as we've played them numerous times over the last couple years. I expect it to be a tough game and for our players to rise to the occasion." 

In two games, UNLV has scored a total of nine goals with Morris scoring four of them. The Nevada Women's Player of the Year sat out last season due to injury, but is off to a quick start in her redshirt freshman campaign thus far. Close behind Morris in the goals column is senior forward Brittney Gideon with two.

UC Davis

Day: Sunday, Aug. 28

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: Las Vegas, Nev. (Peter Johann Memorial Field)

Coverage: Live Stats | Live Tweets

UC Davis is currently 1-1 on the year, coming off a win over Sonoma State on Aug. 19 and loss against Florida Gulf Coast on Aug. 21. The Aggies return 15 letterwinners and seven starters from 2015 where they finished 10-7-2 overall and 7th in the Big West Conference. Senior forwards Celina Minissian and Rachel Ahr have each scored for UC Davis – both of which came in the win over Sonoma State.

"UC Davis has gone through some coaching transitions and I know they'll be a very organized and disciplined team tactically," Luciano noted. "They have some very good athletes and soccer players. We'll get the opportunity to watch them on Friday against Eastern Washington, which should give us a better feel in terms of scouting."

The Lumberjacks have yet to beat UC Davis in a total of two games played. Northern Arizona last fell to the Aggies in 2012 by a final score of 3-0. The loss before that came in 2005 at Lumberjack Stadium. Sunday's game will mark the first neutral match between the two squads.

Looking Ahead

Following the 2016 Rebel Classic this weekend, Northern Arizona will seek redemption at Grand Canyon University after losing in overtime to the Lopes for the first time in school history last season. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. in Phoenix, Ariz. on Friday, Sept. 2.

Veteran Affairs

It's no secret that the 'Jacks graduated a bulk of their starters including four All-Big Sky selections from 2015. But with change, comes new opportunity. With seniors like Dani Muniz and Lindsay Doyle, as well as redshirt junior Missy Kettelkamp, there still is no shortage of experience for NAU.

Muniz appeared in all 19 games last season at defender while Doyle appeared in 18. At forward, Doyle strung together a solid junior season scoring four goals – tied for second on the team with Adrian Nixt – and two assists for 10 points. Kettelkamp, too, brings a strong mix of experience to the table after proving in 2015 she can defend and put the ball in the back of the net.

Youth Movement

Given that 26 players of NAU's 36-player roster are underclassmen, the growth ahead is inevitable. With 15 freshmen aboard the Lumberjack train – 12 newcomers and three redshirts – Luciano and his squad are bound and determined to use what's in front of them as an advantage. Without any one, star player to rely on, Luciano summed up his expectations for this year's team in one word: united.