The Northern Arizona women's soccer team nearly pushed for 90-plus minutes on Sunday afternoon before sophomore Kambree Meskill scored an unlikely goal, the first of her career, against North Dakota in the 68th minute to lift the Lumberjacks to a 1-0 victory, their eight win of the season and third in the Big Sky.
"In the first half I thought we made it more difficult than we needed to. We created a lot of chances and we probably should have put one or two away in the first half," head coach Andre Luciano said. "In the second, we turned it on and created even more opportunities and in typical soccer fashion, scored the most unlikely of goals to win the game."
Much like on Friday night, the Lumberjacks dominated the game with an overwhelming offensive attack and solid defensive performance. Even though the game was scoreless at the half, the Jacks recorded nine shots compared to North Dakota's two. Senior Adrian Nixt led the attack with five shots and freshman Paige Maling had three.
"We have to credit North Dakota because they play a very low restraining line in terms of their backs and they get a lot of numbers behind the ball, so whenever we got inline on them they always had numbers in and around the box," Luciano said. "We just need to do a better job of finishing; that was the biggest thing."
The lone goal of the game came by chance as the goalkeeper was caught out of her box on a prior play as the ball landed right at Meskill's feet. With just seconds to think, Meskill craftily chipped the ball into the net.
Defensively, Taryn Benham, the freshman from Omaha, Neb., got her second career start in goal in Meghan Dickmann's absence. With three saves against the Fighting Hawks, Benham was able to lead the Jacks to their second shutout of the weekend.
"This weekend was an overall team effort," Luciano said. "We played so many players and tried to rotate as many as we could knowing that Friday night was going to be a challenge and Sunday was going to be tough. Now we are just going to take it day by day."
With this 1-0 victory, Northern Arizona improves to 8-5 overall and 3-1 in the Big Sky. The Lumberjacks will hit the road to take on Portland State and Montana Friday and Sunday.
Northern Arizona senior Elijah Marks has been honored as the ROOT SPORTS Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for the period ending Sept. 30, conference officials announced on Monday.
Marks ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Lumberjacks' 48-20 victory over Northern Colorado on Saturday, which moved NAU to 2-0 in Big Sky action (2-2 overall).
The runback came at a pivotal moment in the contest as it followed Northern Colorado touchdown that had just trimmed a 20-0 Lumberjack advantage to 20-14 with 11:03 left in the third quarter.
Marks' TD return marked the first of his career and the first for NAU since Oct. 26, 2013 vs. Cal Poly (Marcus Alford/100 yards).
The Jacks (2-2) return to action on Saturday at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome for a showdown with No. 7/11 Illinois State (4-0) at 4 p.m.
Northern Arizona University's Emma Reyes and Loren Skibba finished the final round of Wyoming University's Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif. on Sunday.
Skibba ended the tournament in a tie for 56th overall with a 32-over performance. The sophomore opened the competition with an 80 in the first round, and followed it up with two straight scores of 84 to close out the tournament. Skibba made four birdies over the weekend.
Reyes finished in 60th with a 35-over performance. The sophomore started the weekend with an 89 but bounced back with an 80 in the second round and an 82 on Sunday. She also finished with four brides.
The two were the only Lumberjacks in competition this weekend. The twosome was playing as individuals to get some more work in during the fall campaign.
The Lumberjacks return to the links with the University of Denver's Ron Moore Women's Intercollegiate, Oct. 6-8. in Highlands Ranch, Colo.