NAU finished the first weekend of road games in Stockton, California as they played the University of the Pacific Tigers Sept. 8. The Tigers looked to make a change to their struggling season as they got their first win of the year against a still recovering Lumberjack team 2-1 Sunday afternoon.
The Lumberjacks entered this game after a hard fought battle just south of Stockon in Los Angeles, California. They lost to the University of Southern California Trojans 3-0 Friday afternoon. NAU held the Trojans to a scoreless first half, putting up a great defensive effort against the fourth ranked team in the nation before losing defensive control of the game and being outlasted in the final minutes of regulation. NAU appeared to have taken their loss as a learning experience and attempted to shrug it off as they prepared to take on the Tigers.
Having started the year 0-5, the Tigers were hungry for redemption. Pacific lit a fire under themselves for this game and put on a huge turnaround effort in an attempt to get their first win of the season. The Lumberjacks tried to avoid another loss this weekend as they too were looking to rally from their recent loss to USC and end the weekend on a good note.
The Lumberjacks obtained an early lead with a goal during the back end the 15th minute with a shot by NAU sophomore forward Madison Montgomery. This put NAU up 1-0 less than mid way through the first half and gave the Lumberjacks an early advantage.
"[I think these games] are a great opportunity for us to get exposed and understand where the team needs to be better and grow from," NAU head coach Kylie Louw said.
Similar to the Lumberjacks game against the Trojans, a different Lumberjack squad come out of the locker room for the last 45 minutes of regulation. Pacific snuck one past junior goalkeeper Taryn Benham to equalize the game 1-1 in the 52nd minute. Pacific found a weak spot and applied pressure, taking the lead on a second and ultimatly deciding goal by Tigers sophomore midfielder Janae Packard in the 69th minute.
With 20 minutes left in the match, NAU needed to find a way to turn the game around and take home a win. The Lumberjacks tried to create opportunities to equalize as the two teams grinded it out, leaving Pacific with little room to breathe as they crowded the goal for a shootout.
Unfortunatley, NAU couldn’t make it happen as they were handed their second loss of the season.
"Credit to [University of Pacific] that came out with a lot of energy," Louw said. "They were able to match our energy and found a way to score two goals on that counterattack."
The Lumberjacks are 0-2 on the road this weekend. With the loss they now own 2-2-1 record for the season, and fall to second place in the Big Sky conference. NAU will be on the road again as they head east to take on Los Lobos of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico Sep. 15 at 12 p.m. MST.
"We need to start executing in the final serve and make more opportunities to win the ball," Louw said. "Those are a couple things we're going to be working on this week as we continue to work and grow in understanding our NAU identity."