Photo: File photo
Drake started its road trip with a thrilling double overtime victory, as it pulled out a 2-1 squeaker against Northern Arizona. An own goal 53 seconds into the second overtime period lifted the Bulldogs (2-1) past the Lumberjacks (0-3).
Drake spoiled the opening of the Lumberjacks’ new stadium in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Junior Laura Moklestad said adjusting to the altitude of about 7,000 feet was a challenge.
“We made sure to hydrate days before to help us acclimate,” said Moklestad, who tied the game at one with a goal in the 87th minute. “Most importantly, we mentally prepared as a unit because we knew that (Northern Arizona) would come out strong. As the game went on we were able to break them down and gain momentum.”
There was still no score until the 76th minute when Northern Arizona earned a free kick. Sam Monahan struck the ball from about 30 yards out to put the Lumberjacks ahead, 1-0. The Bulldogs responded by going on the attack. Horner noted that the team’s strategy changed immediately after the goal went in.
“The game was tight going into the second half when the team started pulling together”, head coach Lindsey Horner said. “After NAU scored their goal, they started to play conservatively and we started throwing numbers forward.”
Roughly 10 minutes later Moklestad put a shot in the back of the net. That evened the contest and sent it to overtime. She was ecstatic to put her team back in the game.
“It felt awesome scoring the equalizer,” Moklestad said. “We knew that we could win the game. Our persistence as a team provided the opening for me to score. After that we didn’t let down because we knew that we had the momentum to win.”
Horner knew it was time for the ladies to step up in overtime.
“Our girls get excited to compete in overtime,” she said. “We showed a lot of personality in the extra minutes, and for this group of players it is a step in the right direction.”
The first overtime yielded a scoreless period, but not without offensive chances. The Bulldogs capitalized early in the second overtime on a defensive mix-up resulting in an own goal by the Lumberjacks.
Despite notching the win, the contest was much more one-sided than the score suggests. Northern Arizona took 17 shots to the Bulldogs’ seven.
“We struggled to get much going offensively in the first half, and as the game wore on we were better at recognizing what was working,” Horner said.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kalena Litch played a big part in the defense as she had a game-high 10 saves. Horner said she is excited for Litch to continue her development into a premier keeper, and realizes the weapon she has on the defensive end of the pitch.
“Kalena still has room to transition from a very good keeper to an excellent keeper, as she has loads of potential,” Horner said. “But tonight we clearly had the better goalkeeper, and in women’s soccer that is sometimes the difference.”