NAU Soccer Kicks Off the Big Sky Season With an Overtime Win Over Portland State

Junior forward Adrian Nixt
Junior forward Adrian Nixt

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University women's soccer team entered tonight's (Sept. 23) contest having never lost at home against Portland State dating back to 1997. This unbeaten streak remains fully intact as the Lumberjacks are now 13-5-5 all-time versus the Vikings, 4-5-1 on the season and 1-0 in Big Sky Action following this evening's 2-1 overtime victory. Freshman forward Shelbie O'Connor tallied her first career goal while junior forward Adrian Nixt picked up her fourth game-winner of the 2016 campaign.

Nixt's performance so far this season moves her into a tie for fourth in both game-winners in a season (4) and career game-winners (7) in NAU program history.

"We've been fighting all season long," Head Coach Andre Luciano said. "The Grand Canyon game was a wake-up call for us in that we had to start creating our own luck. What they have realized is that they can be a really good team. That's the biggest difference – that belief in who they are and what they can be."

"We came out with high energy and I think that definitely factored in to how well we played," Nixt said. "We won our first game, but we have to carry this momentum with us into the rest of the conference season."

Although the Vikings somehow managed to out-shoot the Lumberjacks in the first 45 minutes by one (8-7), Northern Arizona still had the edge at halftime thanks to Flagstaff's very own O'Connor. Sophomore defender Alexis Moest's pass was right on the money from midfield and O'Connor finished off the play just as beautifully, finding the upper 90 for her first two career points.

Junior goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann continued her strong play in the backfield notching a total of three first-half saves. One in particular, in the 27th minute, would have given Portland State a huge burst of momentum had she not laid out on the perimeter of the goalie box. Sophomore forward Ari Gonzalez and junior forward Adrian Nixt also had a combined three additional looks for NAU in the first half.

Portland State came out of the locker room looking for redemption and earned exactly that in the 54th minute. Although an unlucky bounce for NAU, the Vikings were able to tie up the score and keep the 'Jacks from winning in regulation. Nixt had another solid look at goal just moments later, off a thread-the-needle pass from O'Connor, but her attempt rolled just left of the goal post. Northern Arizona still wasn't done as Nixt, redshirt freshman midfielder Carly Gamble and senior forward Lindsay Doyle strung together three straight looks for the 'Jacks that did not fall.

"Portland State's coach is one of the best in the conference," Luciano said. "She has a really, really hard working team and that's how they are every single year. I'm sure at halftime she gave them an earful, but we took a little bit of a nap. I knew if we got them in overtime that we would win the game."

Northern Arizona recorded 14 shots in regulation to Portland State's 10. Coming off an overtime victory at Colorado College, the Lumberjacks took what was theirs in the first three minutes of overtime. Nixt broke free in Viking territory, juked a defender along the way, and found the back of the net in the 93rd minute to give NAU its first Big Sky victory of 2016.

With four game-winning goals midway through her junior season, she is now tied for fourth in the country and just two away from the national leader. Her four goals this season also adds to her career total of 13 – a tie for ninth in program history in the career goals column.

"We've had a lot of great forwards come through our program," Luciano added. "We've had Sierra Cristiano, Cee Cee Odorfer, Haley Wingender; I think great forwards figure out how to finish a game and Adrian [Nixt] has done that for us."

Luciano and his squad are set for their second and final conference game of the weekend in Lumberjack Stadium versus Sacramento State. The Hornets took down Southern Utah 2-0 tonight (Sept. 23), moving them to 3-4-2 overall including a 1-0 clip in conference play. Match time is set for 12 p.m. MST as NAU seeks yet another Big Sky victory in Flagstaff.