NAU soccer finishes final home weekend with sweep

 
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BY TATUM ROCHIN –

The Northern Arizona University (NAU) women’s soccer team wrapped up its final two home matches of the 2013 season with a pair of wins against the University of North Dakota and the University of Northern Colorado.

Oct. 20 was a special day for the Lumberjacks, as they shutout North Dakota 2–0 while also honoring the six seniors of the team: defender and captain Alana D’Onofrio, midfielder Jordan Stenger, forwards Elinor Priest and Shawnee Morgan and goal keepers Lauren Weaver and Shelby Foltz.

“It’s a fitting last game for them at home,” said head coach Andre Luciano. “I’m really proud of them and they put us back to our winning ways. They basically had to rebuild this program and it wasn’t easy but they stuck it out.”

Throughout the game, the Lumberjacks stayed patient, kept their emotions in check and were able to keep good possession of the ball. NAU ended the game with a total of 16 shots as opposed to North Dakota’s four shots. Weaver also recorded her seventh shutout of this season, giving her a total of 18 shutouts over the course of her career.

Sophomore forward Nicole Sherwin scores the winning goal during the Oct. 18 Bears vs. Lumberjacks game held at Lumberjack Stadium. The Lumberjacks defeated the Bears one to zero in the 93rd minute.  (Photo by Evan Jon Paniagua)

Sophomore forward Nicole Sherwin scores the winning goal during the Oct. 18 Bears vs. Lumberjacks game held at Lumberjack Stadium. The Lumberjacks defeated the Bears one to zero in the 93rd minute. (Photo by Evan Jon Paniagua)

“We knew that they were going to be strong in the defense and we knew we had to be a little more patient in our possession,” Luciano said. “We did a great job in the first half of opening the game up and giving ourselves opportunities.”

Freshman forward Lindsay Doyle gave the Lumberjacks a 1–0 lead in the 18th minute of play with assists from Morgan and Stenger.

“It felt good to score for my seniors today,” Doyle said. “We just played really hard and wanted to win and I’m happy for them.”

Along with her assist, Morgan was also able to score in the 80th minute of play, which gave NAU a solid 2–0 lead that held off its opponents for the rest of the game.

The energy of the crowd helped out all the Lumberjacks, and especially the seniors, who were competing in their last regular season home match.

“Every time you get an awesome crowd like this it’s a real motivator,” Stenger said. “Since it’s senior day, you really want to play your heart out for them and everyone today was working hard for each other.”

On Oct. 18, NAU defeated Northern Colorado 1–0 with an overtime goal made by sophomore midfielder Nicole Sherwin, with an assist from junior midfielder Savannah Berry. Sherwin’s goal in the 93rd minute of play marked her second game-winning goal this season.

“Coach Luciano always says he has a lot of confidence in me,” Sherwin said. “That helps me have confidence in myself knowing that I can go in and help the team when I need to.”

There was little offensive action from both teams going into overtime, with a total of 10 shots for NAU and only 8 shots coming from Northern Colorado. NAU kept pressing during overtime and was able to keep possession of the ball long enough to score the last goal and end the game.

Despite the Lumberjacks losing to the Bears in previous years, they learned from their mistakes and were only focused on the present game.

“You don’t look back at last year or previous results,” Luciano said. “You need to focus on what you need to do to make yourself better for the next game.”

The Lumberjacks now hold a 5–2 record in the Big Sky Conference with a 9–4–3 record overall. They will play their last two games of the regular season on the road starting at University of Montana on Oct. 25 and finishing at Eastern Washington University on Oct. 27.

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