'Cats tie it up against NAU

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Weber State University’s Bailey Eames dribbles the ball in the game on Sept. 18 against New Mexico State University. WSU is now tied for first place in the Big Sky Conference.

After a string of rough outcomes in non-conference play, the Weber State University women’s soccer team remains undefeated following a 1-1 tie with Northern Arizona University over the weekend.

This tie keeps the squad at the top of the Big Sky Conference rankings. The team is tied with Portland State University at 2-0-1. NAU was voted the preseason favorite  to win the conference championship at the end of the season.

Assistant Coach Meagan Thunnel said she feels this tie could be just the confidence-booster the team needs to get them to their ultimate goal of winning the conference when the time comes.

“We now believe in ourselves to have the ability to keep up with last year’s top dog in the conference,” Thunnel said.

The lone goal was scored by forward Sarah Mager. Mager put the ball in the left side of the net to give the Wildcats the 1-0 lead almost 30 minutes before NAU scored their goal.

Mager said she was pleased to score her first goal of the season, but that getting a good outcome from the game is what matters most.

“I was excited to get my first goal for the season,” Mager said. “We fought hard against a very good team that I believe we can beat when the win matters the most. Every game, we keep improving as a team and playing harder than the previous game.”

The NAU Lumberjacks played an aggressive style in the first half of the game and constantly challenged the WSU defense, shooting 10 times at the goal in the first half. The second half was a different story; only two shots were taken at the goal.

The ‘Cats came out strong in the second half, attempting seven shots at the goal in comparison to the two shots made in the first period.

The Wildcat defense held off the Lumberjack defense solidly. The lone goal for the Lumberjacks was not scored until the 76th minute of play. In the second half, the Wildcats outshot the Lumberjacks 7-1.

Following the end of regulation, two 10-minute overtimes were played, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. The Wildcats and NAU both recorded three shot attempts at the goal in the overtime.

Goalie Ryann Waldman chalked up two saves for the team in the 110 minutes she guarded the goal. Waldman said she felt the team played well in the match and challenged the Lumberjacks.

“The girls played very tough defense throughout the game,” Waldman said. “We started off a little slow in the first period, but really stepped it up, taking more shots at their goalie in the second period.”

The Wildcats will play two matches at home this week, facing the University of Montana on Thursday and taking on Eastern Washington University on Saturday. Both matches are at home. Waldman said the game against NAU will help them prepare for their next matches, and was a good steppingstone for the team.

“This was a good test for us to see what we need to do for the next few matches to continue striving for our long-term goal,” Waldman said.