ASU Women's Soccer Faces Nebraska Today
Sept. 20, 2009
Live stats - Kickoff is at Noon CT/10 a.m. PT
The Arizona State women’s soccer team concludes its road trip to the state of Nebraska on Sunday when it travels to Lincoln, Neb., to face the University of Nebraska. The Sun Devils got their road trip off to a good start on Friday as they extended their unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1) with a 2-1 win at Creighton.
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).
The first two goals of sophomore defender Katie Shepard’s career proved to be enough offense for the Arizona State women’s soccer team on Friday as it defeated Creighton 2-1. With the victory the Sun Devils (5-1-1) extended their unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1). Statistically the Sun Devils dominated as they had overwhelming advantages in shots (14-6) and corner kicks (5-0). Despite those advantages ASU still faced an uphill battle early after Creighton junior Claire Zach scored the first goal of the game on a header in the eighth minute. The Sun Devils would tie the game less than five minutes later when Shepard scored from point-blank range. Shepard’s goal was set up by teammate Alexandra Elston, who headed Courtney Tinnin’s corner kick into a crowd. The ball came Shepard’s way and she quickly put it away. Shepard’s second career goal would come less than four minutes later when she leaped and headed in another corner kick by Tinnin to give the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead. The Sun Devils would make the lead stand up for the remainder of the game and nearly increased it early in the second half when they created a flurry of scoring opportunities. After ASU’s initial attack failed to produce any additional goals it had to fend off a few threats from the Bluejays, who controlled the action during the latter stages of the second half. Shepard became the third Sun Devils to score two goals in a game this season joining teammates Karin Volpe (at Tennessee on Aug. 31) and Elston (Sept. 11 vs. San Diego State). With her two assists Tinnin now has four this season which leads the team.
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].”
Nebraska enters Sunday’s game with a 5-1-1 record. The Huskers are currently on a four-game winning streak, outscoring their last four opponents by an aggregate total of 29-3.
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 the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week for Women’s Soccer. Elston currently leads the Sun Devils in both points (7) and goals (3) while her 13 shots are tied for second on the team.