FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The 73rd minute was a golden moment for the Northern Arizona University women's soccer team tonight, Sept. 9, in Lumberjack Stadium. The 'Jacks took down the University of Illinois-Chicago by a final score of 1-0 thanks to junior forward Adrian Nixt's second goal of the season. NAU jumps out to 2-4 on the year with one more game in the annual NAU Mountain Classic remaining on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. versus University of New Mexico.
"We haven't had a ton of opportunities in our last few games, so I was very pleased with our penetrating runs forward," Assistant Coach Carolyn Savage – who stepped in for Head Coach Andre Luciano for the evening – said. "We have been talking a lot about both capitalizing on and creating opportunities for ourselves. Our players never let down and fought until the final seconds of the game."
After notching a 9-2 shot advantage heading into the second half, Northern Arizona was sitting pretty despite not being able to connect after five of those nine attempts were on goal. Freshman forward Heather Donais – in her first career start for the Lumberjacks – undoubtedly made the most of her time under the game lights. She gave NAU its first shot of the half and later assisted on Nixt's game winner.
"At halftime, our team talked about capitalizing on opportunities," Nixt said. "We've had a lot of games this season where we've had one good half but not a complete game. Our seniors stepped in and just said 'this is the game we finish' – and we did."
In the first half alone, the 'Jacks had two shots skim the hands of UIC's goalkeeper and bounce off the cross bar. Freshman forward Shelbie O'Connor and Nixt were pivotal in creating the offensive momentum NAU held on for dear life to for the entire 90 minutes. Senior forward Lindsay Doyle also had a handful of exceptional looks at goal and finished with a team-high seven shot attempts.
The second half was much of the same story: strong looks that wouldn't quite fall. However, the Lumberjacks remained the attackers and things eventually went awry for the Flames. Northern Arizona did not allow a single shot attempt in the second half and ultimately dominated the shots category by a margin of 15. Donais, who is a seven-time gold medalist track athlete out of Kamiakin High School, continued to use her lightning speed to create opportunities for NAU.
She had an additional look late in the second half and missed high, but her corner kick in the 73rd minute to set Nixt up for the game-winning header came shortly after. The Lumberjacks now own the all-time series record of 1-0 against UIC and will look to carry this momentum into Sunday's (Sept. 11) game against New Mexico. Kick-off is set for 2 p.m. in Lumberjack Stadium.