Northern Arizona women's soccer kicked off the season with a 2-0 win in Phoenix against Grand Canyon University (GCU). Riding early goals from Sophomore Abby Donathan and Senior Kayla Terhune, NAU settled in with a stout defense and didn’t give the Lopes any sight of their lead.
The Lumberjacks opened their season against GCU on Sunday in Phoenix. The Lumberjacks looked to open their season with a win as GCU hoped to rebound after a tough loss against the Arizona Wildcats.
NAU put the pressure on early — within the first minute, a shot from Sophomore Abby Donathan bounced off the crossbar and out of bounds, but she wouldn’t have to wait long to open the scoring sheet in the young season. The goal came after a failed clearance from GCU Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Hayden Wallace fell right to senior forward Paige Maling. Maling made a quick pass to Donathan, who would not miss the net a second time, putting it just out of Wallace's reach and giving NAU the lead.
The Lumberjacks' attack didn't let up and it wouldn’t take long for them to find the back of the net once again — this time, it was senior Kayla Terhune. Once again, Maling found a wide-open Terhune, who didn’t hesitate to take the shot from well outside the box, put the ball in the top corner, doubling the Lumberjack advantage.
The game came to a stalemate as GCU started to put pressure on senior goalkeeper Taryn Benham, but she and the NAU defense were up to every challenge. The Lopes relied on their speed to create chances on quick counter attacks, while the Lumberjacks would hold possession in GCU territory and work toward the Lopes' goal, but neither team was able to find the net following the opening onslaught by the Lumberjacks.
The second half was better for the Lopes as they managed to build up attacks in NAU territory. The Lumberjacks struggled to create a significant chance, but the Lopes weren’t much better. NAU’s defense held strong and didn't give the Lopes a good chance to goal as Benham looked comfortable between the posts.
The game turned back to the Lumberjacks favor after freshman Giselle Mata forced a great save from Wallace that the Lopes just managed to clear. Despite gaining momentum and getting back on the front foot, the Lumberjacks couldn’t muster their earlier momentum. GCU got some late opportunities out of desperation, but NAU met them at every turn, holding the shut out as NAU won 2-0.
“It's something we talk about a lot and our defenders and our players work really hard defensively,” NAU head coach Kylie Lowu said. “Taryn came up with some big stops today and I think when you have that, if that can carry out throughout the rest of the season than that's gonna help us keep the ball out of the back of the net.”
NAU’s attention now turns to UA as they look forward to the showdown that looms on Saturday for the Lumberjacks in Tucson, before they start Big Sky Conference play on March 12.