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NAU traveled to Moscow, Idaho to take on the University of Idaho Vandals for its third in conference matchup. Due to Idaho’s speed, offensive efficiency and NAU’s collapsing defense, the Lumberjacks had a hard time keeping up as they lost 3-1, which marked the first win for the Vandals against the Lumberjacks since 2015.

NAU did a good job keeping possession throughout the game, however, the Vandals took advantage of their opportunities on the attack, and were disciplined on defense. This caused NAU to look somewhat frantic and out of control throughout the game, whereas the Vandals came out looking like the more poised team.

As mentioned, NAU had control of the ball throughout much of the first half. They were patient in the midfield, however, whenever they got close to the box, that’s when NAU began to panic, making ill-advised passes and crosses. Idaho’s defense did a great job limiting passing lanes for NAU, forcing the Lumberjacks to turn the ball over — having to reset and approach again.

Although Idaho did not possess the ball as often as NAU, the team was very opportunistic as it did an exceptional job in terms of offensive efficiency and speed. Sophomore forward Jadyn Hanks was especially effective for the Vandals. Hanks, in the 14th-minute, scored an unassisted goal as she shook off her defender with a few moves, sped by and nailed a left-legged goal from 18 yards away. 

Ten minutes later, the Vandals and Hanks converted good defense to better offense. They got a solid steal from the Lumberjacks, deep in Vandal territory, and quickly hit Hanks sprinting up the field with a beautiful through ball. Hanks took it down to the right side of the box and hit a well-timed grounder into the left side of the goal, putting the Vandals up 2-0 in a hurry. 

The Vandals kept this lead heading into the second half and, unfortunately for NAU, much of the same themes that occurred in the first, repeated in the second.

The second half began quite similarly to the first: NAU was able to control the ball but couldn’t get any momentum. In the 55th minute, Idaho put another nail in the Lumberjacks’ coffin as sophomore midfielder Margo Schoesler got a nice pass in the middle of the attack and turned on her defender, sending one high up into the net for the Vandals. 

From this point on the game was nearly decided. NAU did, however, end up scoring a goal late in the game. In the 85th minute, senior midfielder Rylee Mitchell had one shot deflected by the Vandals, but was able to get the rebound and score — putting NAU on the board. Though this showed heart for the Lumberjacks, the game was already decided, as the Vandals defended home court 3-1.

NAU goes down to 0-3 in conference play but their road stretch doesn’t stop here. The Lumberjacks head to Cheney, Washington to play the Eastern Washington Eagles (4-7, 2-1 Big Sky) on Sunday at 1 p.m. Viewers can watch the game live on ESPN+.

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