POCATELLO, Idaho – The Northern Arizona women's soccer team is making its last push for a post-season appearance and is getting closer after a 1-0 win over Idaho State today, Oct. 23. Head Coach Andre Luciano and the Lumberjacks are now 7-7-4 on the year and 4-2-3 in the Big Sky. If Idaho wins today, they will gain sole possession of first place with Eastern Washington and Sacramento State in a tie for second. Regardless of the outcome of Weber State versus Portland State today, Northern Arizona and Montana are next in line in the standings with 15 points apiece.
"First and foremost, this is a really tough road trip," Luciano said. "We knew that playing here at ISU would be a real challenge because Coach Gibson always has her team ready. I have to give credit to our players for implementing our game plan – and I'm really proud of Madeline Waszak for scoring the game-winner today. It was just a big, gutsy performance overall."
Northern Arizona's regular season is coming to a close with just one game remaining. With that said, Northern Arizona is determined to finish the regular season in the top six for an automatic berth to the Big Sky Championships. After being edged out of the standings in 2015, the Lumberjacks are doing everything in their power to avoid that feeling again in 2016. The fight and urgency this afternoon against the Bengals was no doubt in full force.
In the first half, NAU doubled ISU's six shot attempts finishing with 12. Although the two squads' shots on goal were identical (2 each) after 45 minutes of play, Northern Arizona held on to a 1-0 lead at the break. Sophomore forward Madeline Waszak broke free down the right side, off an assist from senior forward Lindsay Doyle, and found the back of the net in the 13th minute. For the last 30 minutes of the half, the 'Jacks remained in control. Junior Meghan Dickmann helped set the tone coming down with two saves in the first six minutes.
Junior defender Riley Porter and Waszak led the way in the shots column with three apiece in period one, but six other Lumberjacks rounded out the attempts with one each. The 'Jacks had three immediate looks to open up the second half although the Bengals responded with two strong looks themselves – one of which Dickmann laid out for to prevent the equalizer.
It was a somewhat quiet second half as the Lumberjacks continued to create opportunities offensively and get stops on the other end of the field. Dickmann, coming off a career high 13 saves against Idaho, finished with 5 today while recording her fourth shutout this season. Northern Arizona rattled off 19 shots with three of them on goal, but just one score was enough for the victory and a comforting jump in the Big Sky Standings.
Luciano and his squad will close out the regular season at home versus Southern Utah on Friday, Oct 28th at 7 p.m. MST. Northern Arizona will also honor its six seniors in their final showing in Flagstaff as they look to keep their season alive. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona.