Coming off a successful weekend in Cedar City, Utah where NAU defeated the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in both matches 3-2 and 3-0, the Lumberjacks returned home to see the winless Idaho State Bengals at Flagstaff High School on a snowy and windy Friday afternoon. NAU took care of business as junior defender Madison Montgomery’s brace led NAU to a 2-1 victory.
NAU dominated possession throughout the first 20 minutes of the match with senior forward Kylie Kaputska and freshman midfielder Maddie Schafer failing to convert their chances. However, NAU capitalized eight minutes into the match as Montgomery’s shot clanked off the top post into the back of the net to give NAU a 1-0 lead.
“The first one [goal] was relying on my teammates to set the ball to me and I was able to get that breakaway and I chipped it far post,” Montgomery said about her first goal.
After that, possession changed hands as the first half reached the 25th minute. The scoring ability of Montgomery was on full display as her free kick went over Idaho State freshman goalkeeper McKayla Wetsel’s head to give NAU a 2-0 lead. However, NAU’s defense struggled to get back in position on the following possession. Less than a minute after Montgomery’s score, Idaho State responded with a goal of their own as freshman forward Kaylyn Buchanan delivered a cross to junior forward Caitlin Crist, who blasted a shot past NAU senior goalkeeper Taryn Benham to cut the Lumberjack lead to 2-1, which was the score heading into half.
Throughout the first 20 minutes of the second half, neither team could convert their chances and find either an insurance goal for NAU or a needed equalizer for Idaho State. Each goalkeeper excelled at picking up loose passes on counterattacks, holding the other team’s attack in check. Wetsel also helped Idaho State to stay in the match, saving shots from Kaputska and Shafer.
For the final 20 minutes of the match, NAU pulled their forwards toward the back, locking down the backline to prevent Idaho State from evening the match. This was emphasized by senior forward Paige Maling heading away a Bengals free kick with 12 and a half minutes to go in the match. NAU held on to win the match 2-1, picking up their fourth win in a row.
Montgomery was the star in this match for NAU, leading the team to victory with her brace as she picked up her fourth and fifth scores of the season.
NAU head coach Kylie Louw was proud of Montgomery’s confidence in becoming NAU’s go-to scorer.
“I am so proud of her and now she has the confidence to do what we ask her to do, but she has the talent,” Louw said. “She’s a really good goal scorer and we gave her confidence to play that position and she is just executing very well.”
Louw is also proud of the team effort NAU displayed in Friday’s 2-1 win.
“Our team can take tactics well and we executed a great plan,” Louw said. “I really think we operated as a team today. The girls did everything we asked them to do and [I] just love this team.”
“Working together like we did got us the two goals,” Montgomery added.
NAU will face off against Idaho State once again at Flagstaff High School on Sunday at noon.