CHENEY, Wash. - Sacramento State took an early lead with a goal in the 22nd minute but Northern Arizona equalized before the half and broke a 2-2 tie with the game-winning goal in the 66th minute as the Lumberjacks outlasted the Hornets, 3-2, in the Big Sky Tournament semifinals.
In a 1-1 game early in the second half, NAU went ahead on a penalty kick goal before Hornet senior Jennifer Lum equalized in the 65th minute. The Lumberjacks immediately answered 56 seconds later with what ended up being the game-winning goal.
After earning a bye into the semifinals as the No. 2 seed for the Big Sky Tournament, Sacramento State (8-7-4) saw its program-record long five-game winning streak come to a close. The Hornets had allowed just three goals in their last five games but the Lumberjacks found the back of the net three times on Friday. It marked just the second time this season that Sacramento State allowed more than two goals in a game.
Northern Arizona had the run of play early, forcing Hornet goalkeeper Destiny Butcher to make three saves over the first 18 minutes. NAU had five shots in the first 19 minutes but failed to get a goal.
The Hornets scored on what was their first great chance of the game. Off an Alexa Heinzer corner kick senior Kassidy Kellogg headed the ball to the near post. An NAU defender tried to head it out but the ball went straight up, and Hornet freshman Mikayla Reed jumped towards the post to get a header to the front of the goal where senior Regan Smithers finished a shot off a Lumberjack defender.
Northern Arizona would equalize in the 40th minute. Heather Donais played a ball from the midfield and a Hornet defender, Butcher, and NAU's Anna Goebel met at the top of the Hornet box, with the two Hornet players colliding as Goebel's initial shot was stopped before she gained the loose ball and finished into an open net.
The Lumberjacks took their first lead early in the second half, as in the 49th minute the Hornets were whistled for a foul in the box. Lindsay Doyle took the penalty kick, and Butcher guessed right with a dive to her left and got her fingertips on the ball but it trickled over the goal line.
In the 65th minute the Hornets drew even on a tremendous individual effort by Lum. On a failed clearance by the Lumberjacks, Lum dribbled through four defenders and cut to the right of the NAU box before bouncing a shot off goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann and in.
NAU answered back less than a minute later, as Goebel outran two Hornet defenders to reach a ball sent overtop from the midfield and finished inside the left post from 10 yards out.
Sacramento State created chances to equalize again, with the best coming in the 78th minute when Lum was denied on a fine sliding save by Dickmann. Butcher made a couple great saves in the 81st minute and NAU hit the crossbar with a shot in the 82nd minute but the Hornets were unable to place another shot on goal.
Northern Arizona (10-7-4) advanced to the Big Sky Tournament championship game on Sunday. The Lumberjacks earned a bit of retribution on Friday, as the last time the two teams met in the Big Sky Tournament, in 2010, the Hornets beat NAU on its home field in the championship game.
Shots in the game were even 7-7 in the first half and 8-8 in the second half. The Lumberjacks were 9-6 in shots on goal while the Hornets had a 6-1 edge in corner kicks. Lum led all players in the game with seven shots, placing four on goal.
Friday's loss ended the careers of 11 Hornet seniors that made an enormous impact over the last four (and some five) years. Lum, a three time all-Big Sky selection, wrapped up her sensational career scoring six goals with one assist and 13 points over her last six career games.
The 2016 Hornets set new program records for points in a Big Sky regular season (20) and Big Sky wins in a season (6). The Hornets also ended the regular season undefeated (4-0-1) in Big Sky road games for just the second time in program history. The team's two regular season Big Sky losses were the fewest in a season since 2009 and tied for the second fewest conference losses in a season in program history.