For the third straight weekend, the Northern Arizona women's soccer team will compete at home. The Lumberjacks, who are on a three-match win streak, will host the UNLV Rebels Friday and the Pacific Tigers Saturday.
After getting their last three wins by 1-0 scores, Northern Arizona is looking to continue improving as the conference schedule looms just two weekends away.
"For us there are three phases to the game we have to master: the attacking phase, the defensive phase and the transitioning phase," Lumberjacks head coach Andre Luciano said. "We've done a good job being organized defensively, our ball movement has been solid and the finishing is usually the last thing to come into play. So as long as we are creating chances, we'll continue getting better as the season progresses."
The Lumberjacks face the Rebels in Lumberjack Stadium at 7:30 p.m. UNLV has recorded more than 110 shots in six games, whereas the Jacks have attempted 71 in five. Against an aggressive offensive team, Northern Arizona will have to put on a strong defensive performance and remain consistent in their play up top.
On Sunday, Northern Arizona will compete in a rare evening game at 5 p.m. against the Tigers. The last time the Lumberjacks competed against them was in the program's first year in 1997.
The Rebels, currently on a four-match win streak, are 5-1 overall after going undefeated at home so far this season. They bring back an experienced team consisting of nine returning letterwinners and six returning starters. The last time UNLV and Northern Arizona competed, the Rebels won 3-2.
"The first thing we need to focus on is what makes them successful in their movement," Luciano said. "They are an extremely possession-oriented team in their buildup, but they can be somewhat direct with their front runners and we have to recognize that."
The Tigers, currently 2-3-1 overall, will compete against Yale in Stockton on Friday before traveling to Flagstaff. The Tigers are coming off a 3-1 win over Portland State during which they attempted 25 shots, 11 on goal. Pacific and Northern Arizona have not competed against each other since the start of the Lumberjacks soccer program in 1997.
"They play in a great conference and the competition they are getting on an annual basis is very high; they've had some good results against our conference opponents like Portland State and we need to be mindful of that," Luciano said.
The Lumberjacks graduated a wealth of knowledge from the roster, including two All-Big Sky selections from 2016 in Lindsay Doyle and Missy Kettelkamp. But with seniors like top scorer Adrian Nixt and forward Anna Goebel for the front line and Riley Porter a force to be reckoned with in the back line, the Lumberjacks bring back a number of veterans.
Nixt competed and started in all but one game last season, picking up a season-high nine goals, five of which were game-winners. An All-Conference first team selection, Nixt finished tied for third in game-winning goals, tied for sixth in shots and tied for eighth in points in a season.