ASU Women's Soccer Begins Two-Game Road Trip in Nebraska on Friday
Sept. 17, 2009
The Arizona State women’s soccer team makes its second road trip of the season this week when it travels to the Cornhusker State to face Creighton (Fri., Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. CT/5 p.m. PT) and Nebraska (Sun., Sept. 20 at noon CT/10 a.m. PT). This weekend begins a stretch in which the Sun Devils will play four of their next six games away from home.
The Sun Devils continued to receive votes in this week’s NSCAA national rankings and are rated fourth in the regional rankings behind fellow Pac-10 members Stanford (No. 3 nationally), UCLA (No. 4 nationally) and California (No. 9 nationally).
Junior midfielder Alexandra Elston scored a pair of goals, including the game winner in overtime as the Arizona State women’s soccer team defeated San Diego State 2-1. All of the scoring in the match came following a 40-minute lightning delay in the second half as both teams were unable to generate any offense through the first 56-plus minutes of the game. All of that would change in the 57th minute when Elston connected on a header off a corner kick by teammate Courtney Tinnin. San Diego State would tie the game in the 70th minute before the two teams eventually went to overtime. Eight minutes into the extra session Elston brought the match to a halt when her header off teammate Sierra Joseph’s free kick found its way into the net for the 2-1 win.
Last week’s 2-1 overtime win over San Diego State represented the third time the Sun Devils have been involved in an overtime contest in the season’s first six games. While the concept of going to overtime is nothing new to the Sun Devils (played in seven overtimes in 2008), having success in extra time is. Last season ASU was unable to break into the win column as it went 0-4-3 in seven overtime contests. This season however ASU has managed to reverse the trend as it is 2-0-1 in its three overtime games this season. In its season opener at Tennessee, ASU ended its overtime winless streak when junior Karin Volpe scored the game winner in double overtime.
“[Winning in overtime] is special for us,” ASU head coach Kevin Boyd said following last weeks overtime win over San Diego State. “We have played three overtimes now this year [and] we have won twice and tied once [after not winning in overtime last season].'
Crieghton is 7-1-1 and comes into Friday’s contest on a four-game winning streak. The Blue Jays have outscored their opponents 23-2 this season. Their only loss came in a 1-0 decision at North Dakota State while their lone tie was in the season opener vs. Iowa State. Creighton’s seven shutouts this season currently lead the nation. Offensively the Bluejays have been led by freshman forward Brittney Neumann (5), junior midfielder Emily Orbell (4) and senior midfielder Kyla Hoskins (4), who have combined for 13 of their 23 goals this season.
Nebraska enters this week’s play with a 4-1-1 record. The Huskers are currently on a three-game winning streak, outscoring their last three opponents by an aggregate total of 20-3. Offensively speaking, Nebraska has been paced by freshman Morgan Marlborough, who began the week ranked No. 1 in the nation in goals (10), goals per game (1.67), points (24) and points per game (4.00). Prior to facing ASU, the Huskers will face South Dakota on Friday.
The Sun Devils have won both of their prior meetings against Creighton, defeating the Bluejays 5-0 in 1997 and 4-0 in 2007. In the 2007 win current Sun Devil Karin Volpe set a career high with a pair of goals (has since matched on two other occasions, most recently at Tennessee last month). Another current Sun Devil who had a big contribution in the win was goalkeeper Briana Silvestri, who recorded three saves in the shutout... Sunday’s contest will be the first regular season meeting between the Sun Devils and Huskers.
Silvestri Climbing the Charts
With ASU’s shutout over Old Dominion on Sept. 4 senior goalkeeper Briana Silvestri took over sole possession of third place on ASU’s all-time list for career shutouts (14). It’s the latest accomplishment for Silvestri, who last season set the school’s single-season record for goals against average for the second consecutive season. Silvestri needs three more shutouts to pass Kim Bingham (16.5 saves, 2003-06) for second place. She would need nine more shutouts to become ASU’s all-time leader in shutouts, a distinction currently held by Erin Reinke (1997-00).
Harkin Anchors ASU’s Defense
One of the biggest factors in ASU’s success during Kevin Boyd’s first two seasons as head coach has been the Sun Devils’ ability to hold the opposition’s attack in check. While goalkeeper Briana Silvestri has risen to the challenge when opponents have gotten within scoring range, senior defender Liz Harkin has made a habit of preventing opposing players from getting clear shots on Silvestri.
“When you have a player like Liz Harkin on the back line your defense automatically becomes one of the strengths of your team,” said ASU head coach Kevin Boyd. “She’s one of the best if not the best defender in the country. She doesn’t get beat and she has added more knowledge and more technique to what she does and she is much more vocal this year.”
Last season Harkin earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors and following the season joined the U.S. U-20 Team which captured the gold at the U-20 in World Cup in Chile. Now with international experience under her belt, Boyd feels that Harkin is poised for an outstanding senior year.
Thus far in 2009 Harkin has continued to distinguished herself as one of the nation’s best. Earlier this season Harkin was named to both the Lady Vol Classic and Sun Devil Dessert Classic All-Tournament Teams. She was named the Defensive MVP of the Sun Devil Dessert Classic after helping the Sun Devil shutout Old Dominion 1-0 and tie eighth-ranked Virginia 1-1.
Volpe Takes the Lead on Offense
While Liz Harkin has been ASU’s anchor in the back, junior Karin Volpe has paced the Sun Devils’ attack on the offensive end as she has led the Sun Devils in goals, points and shots each of the last two seasons and is currently second on the team in both points (5) and goals (2). Earlier this month Volpe was named the Pac-10’s Player of the Week after being the driving force behind the Sun Devils’ 3-2 come-from-behind, double-overtime win over the Tennessee Lady Vols in Knoxville. After scoring the tying goal with 13 seconds left in regulation, Volpe would give the Sun Devils the win after scoring again in the 107th minute. Two weeks ago against eighth-ranked Virginia, Volpe contributed an assist on ASU’s only goal of the game and moved into a tie for ninth place (37 points) with former Sun Devil Courtney Crane on ASU’s all time list for most career points. Volpe is also currently tied for fourth on ASU’s career list for game-winning goals (7) and is eighth in career goals (16).
One storyline head coach Kevin Boyd was excited about heading into 2009 was the potential of this year’s freshman class, which currently has three starters - forward Bianca Doller, defender Sierra Joseph and midfielder Taylor McCarter. A little more than 12 minutes into ASU’s season opening win over UC Irvine (Aug. 21), Boyd’s excitement was quickly validated as McCarter (assist) and Doller (goal) teamed up for ASU’s first goal of the season. Three weeks ago Doller, who is currently tied for third on the team in points (4), came up big in the second half of ASU’s win over Tennessee as she assisted on both Volpe’s game-tying goal with 13 seconds left and her game winner in double overtime. Two weeks ago it was another freshman who would provide the Sun Devils with offensive heroics as Kiara Williams came off the bench to score both of ASU’s goals (and the first two of her career) in ASU’s 1-0 win over Old Dominion and 1-1 tie against Virginia. Williams, who made the first start of her career against San Diego State on Sept. 11, was named to the Sun Devil Classic All-Tournament Team and was recognized by CollegeSoccer360.com in being named one of its “Primetime Performers of the Week.” Last week freshman defender Sierra Joseph made her presence felt on the offensive end as her free kick set up the game-winning goal by Alexandra Elston in ASU’s 2-1 overtime win over San Diego State.
All She Does is Win Games
Last week Alexandra Elston helped carry the Sun Devils to victory as she notched both goals in ASU’s 2-1 overtime win over San Diego State. In addition to tying her single-game career high for goals, Elston also notched the fifth game-winning goal of her career which moved her into a tie for eighth place on ASU’s all-time list. For her effort last week Elston was named to th opDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week for Women’s Soccer. Elston currently leads the Sun Devils in both points (6) and goals (3) while her 10 shots are tied for second on the team.