ASU Soccer Opens 2008 Season on Friday at NAU

Aug. 21, 2008

The Arizona State women's soccer team opens the 2008 season on Friday when it travels north to Flagstaff, Ariz., to face Northern Arizona (7 p.m., Lumberjack Stadium). Friday's game will be the first of three consecutive the Sun Devils will play on the road to start the season. Next weekend the Sun Devils will head to California to take on Pepperdine (Fri., Aug. 29) and San Diego State (Sun. Aug. 31) before returning for their home opener against TCU (Fri., Sept. 5).

This will be the sixth time that ASU and NAU have met. The Sun Devils have taken four of the five previous meetings, the most recent win coming in 2002 when ASU defeated the Lumberjacks 4-1 in Tempe. The Sun Devils were victorious in their prior two visits to Flagstaff, winning by scores of 5-1 (1998) and 3-0 (2000). NAU's win in the series came in 2001 when they edged the Sun Devils 2-1 in Tempe.

HEAD COACH Kevin Boyd• Second season with ASU• Led the Sun Devils to a 10-9-1 record in his first season. The 10 wins marked the first time ASU posted a double-digit victory total since the 2003 season.• Was the head coach at Cal for 10 seasons (1997-2006) where he led the Golden Bears to eight NCAA appearances. He was the named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2005 when guided Cal to a 16-4-2 record, including a 7-1-1 record in the Pac-10.• Was a four-year letterwinner at Tri-State University (Angola, Ind.) and is a member of its Hall of Fame.• Career record: 134-72-21 (62-42-9 Pac-10)

WHO IS BACK: The Sun Devils return six starters - senior Kylla Sjoman (defender), juniors Liz Harkin (defender), Carly Kallas (midfielder), Briana Silvestri (goalkeeper), and sophomores Alexandra Elston (midfielder) and Karin Volpe (forward) - from last season's squad which sent 10-9-1 and just missed qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

One of two seniors on the team, Sjoman started all 20 games last season and finished first on the team in assists (7), second in points (11) and tied for fourth in goals (2).

Kallas started all 20 matches last year and finished tied for third on the team with eight points. She was named to the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week following performances in ASU's wins over Washington and Washington State.

Silvestri came into last season with the unenviable assignment of replacing a goalkeeper (Kim Bingham), who one year earlier had set the single-season school record for best GAA (0.86). Silvestri was more than up to the challenge as she responded with a campaign that rivaled those of the most seasoned veterans. By the end of the 2007 season Silvestri had established a new school single-season record for GAA (0.85) while collecting six shutouts along the way.

Elston made of the most of her first year in Tempe, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors following a season in which she finished tied for third on the team in goals (3) to go along with one assist. Elston was personally responsible for last season's wins over Washington State (1-0 OT) and Oregon State (2-1 2OT) in which she scored overtime goals.

Harkin had a big hand in ASU's defensive success, which allowed one or zero goals 17 times in 20 games. The Sacramento, Calif., native started all 20 games last season and was named the team's Defensive MVP following the season. Harkin gained valuable experience in the offseason after being one of 34 players invited to the Under-20 U.S. Women's National Team's Training Camp. She was eventually named to the final roster.

Volpe started 17 of 20 matches last season and would go on to lead the team in points, (12) goals (5), game winning goals (3) and shots (35). Volpe's 12 points marked the first time a freshman led ASU in scoring since Elizabeth Bogus in 2002.

Also returning are senior Carla Scanniello (forward, played in 17 matches in 2007), junior Katie Cochran (goalkeeper, played in 2 matches in 2007), sophomores Jessie Richardson (defender, played in 16 matches in 2007) and Jill Shoquist (midfielder, played in 15 matches in 2007).

Redshirt freshmen forwards Erica Long and Molly Simmons-Stuber will also look to play a big role for the team. Both were sidelined to injury last season. Long actually started the first three matches in 2007 following a strong preseason, however sustained an injury in the season's third match vs. Texas, which put an immediate end to her freshman season.

One returner who will not be playing this season is junior midfielder Lindsey Johns, who played in 16 games last season. Johns was expected to be a big contributor in 2008, however was injured during the team's spring season.

WELCOME TO ASUThe Sun Devils welcome 10 new faces to this year's squad. Sierra Cook (forward), Courtney Giovanni (defender), Kate Sangster (defender), Kari Shane (midfielder), Katie Shepard (defender), Courtney Tinnin (forward) and Leeza Henderson (forward) all signed with ASU last spring while Leslie Castellano (goalkeeper), Lauren Mitchell (goalkeeper) and Erin Seto (midfielder) joined the Sun Devils when training camp began earlier this month. Three of the 10 news players competed locally prior to signing with ASU - Leeza Henderson (Shadow Mountain HS), Katie Shephard (Red Mountain HS).

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