CHENEY, Wash. – The Northern Arizona University women's soccer team will compete for its fourth Big Sky Tournament title in program history on Sunday, Nov. 6 after today's 3-2 victory over No. 3 Sacramento State University. Head Coach Andre Luciano and the Lumberjacks took down the Hornets in today's semifinal game and will face No. 5 Eastern Washington at 12 p.m. MST on Sunday.
"I'm kind of speechless right now in terms of the fight our team has had," Luciano said. "We always talk about the most unlikely of heroes to show up in big moments and that was Anna Goebel with two goals today. We're a good team and really fortunate to be in the final."
"We've been working a lot in practice on shooting and finishing," Goebel said. "It's paying off because as soon as we started doing that in games, we started winning. We've been taking it one game at a time and Sunday happens to be the championship. I know we'll be ready to fight."
The first 45 minutes were about as good as soccer gets. Both teams had seven shots apiece, Northern Arizona's Meghan Dickmann notched three saves while Sacramento State had four, and the score was knotted up 1-1 at halftime. The Hornets were the first to score in the 22nd minute off a corner kick, but the Lumberjacks tallied the equalizer in the 40th minute.
Goebel – picking up right where she left off in Wednesday's (Nov. 2) quarterfinal victory after rattling home the game-winner – scored for NAU to shift the momentum in the Lumberjacks' favor heading into the locker room. Off a ball from freshman forward Heather Donais, Goebel's shot bounced off Sac State's goalkeeper and she was able to tap it in off the rebound.
To open up the second period, senior forward Lindsay Doyle broke free down the left side and was tripped up in the box. Her first penalty kick was good, but unfortunately called back. On her second attempt, Sacramento State's goalkeeper got a hand on it, but her shot trickled in for NAU to jump out in front 2-1 in the 49th minute.
The Hornets responded in the 65th minute to tie the game back up 2-2, but NAU, less than one minute later, took the lead yet again. Goebel scored her second goal of the match and third of the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the 'Jacks to go up 3-2 in regulation. She tucked this one into the bottom left side of the goal as the Sac State goalkeeper's diving attempt to save it was not enough.
Sacramento State did not make the final 30 minutes easy as they finished with 15 shots – matching NAU's attempts – with six of them on goal. Dickmann had her biggest save in the 78th minute and finished the match with four. The Lumberjacks are now 90 minutes away from an NCAA Tournament berth after today's victory. The last time NAU won the Big Sky Tournament was just two years ago in 2014.