#ThursdayGoals Pac-12 women's soccer preview: Arizona State at No. 11 UCLA
The matchup: Arizona State at No. 11 UCLA
On the Call: Christian Miles and Tracey Bailey
Welcome to #Pac12WSOC play, soccer fans. The first #ThursdayGoals installment features the No. 11 UCLA Bruins against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Bruins hold a 16-1-2 all-time advantage over the Sun Devils, however the two teams have played to a 1-1 draw in the last two matchups.
On the Visitors: Arizona State (5-2-1)
The Sun Devils are on a two-match, two-shutout winning streak heading into the gauntlet of conference play, having defeated Northern Illinois (3-0) and Cal State Fullerton (2-0) most recently. The Devils have found the back of the net 17 times in their eight games to date, thanks to a Pac-12 leading junior Jazmarie Mader's six goals in eight matches.
Sun Devils To Watch:
Jazmarie Mader, junior - forward: Mader leads the Sun Devils with her six goals and 12 points heading into Pac-12 play. The junior hailing from Chandler, Arizona is finding her footing on the field after the graduation of standout Cali Farquharson, and netting a goal in six-straight games is sure to give confidence.
Hailey Zerbel, freshman - defender/forward: The freshman out of West Covina, California has already made five starts and logged more than 500 minutes at outside back on the pitch so far this season. Zerbel's expertise, however, is her signature flip throw. Seriously, check it out below if you haven't yet:
— Sun Devil Soccer (@ASUSoccer) September 14, 2016
Echoing the skills of Pac-12ers like Danica Evans and Michael Harris, Zerbel's flip, a front handspring which has to impress the Final Five, (we'd watch that floor routine), gives the Sun Devils an added advantage as it provides set-piece-like opportunities.
Lucy Lara, redshirt senior - midfielder: The Sun Devils will lean on the experience and expertise of Lara, a graduate student utilizing a fifth year of eligibility. She's already scored two goals which were both game winners and two assists, already half of her career scoring total.
On the Home Side: No. 11 Bruins (6-2-0)
The Bruins have had an efficient non-conference portion of their season, going 3-2 against ranked opponents. Key wins included downing then-No. 11 Texas A&M, 1-0, at College Station, Texas, and beating then-No. 13 Penn State in Westwood. UCLA knows offensive success, as the Bruins are tied atop Pac-12 teams with 19 goals to date and eight different players slotting goals. Key for the Bruins will be to start out fast, as UCLA is undefeated when scoring first and leading at the half.
Bruins to Watch:
Darian Jenkins, senior - forward: Three games, three game-winning goals. That performance netted Jenkins all the accolades and sure to please head coach Amanda Cromwell. Jenkins helped the Bruins sweep Pac-12 weekly honors after knocking home the game winners over No. 25 Pepperdine and Long Beach State. She was named to TopDrawerSoccer's Team of the Week and now has 13-career game-winning goals, good for seventh in Bruin history.
Jessie Fleming, freshman - midfielder: Although she's only played in five of UCLA's eight matches to date, Fleming's performance on the pitch has been prolific. The Canadian freshman has netted five goals in that span and recorded an assist, averaging a staggering 2.20 points per game. Fleming's foot skills and ease are impressive to watch and surely equally frustrating to defend her.
— UCLA Women's Soccer (@UCLAWSoccer) August 28, 2016
She'll need a few more games under her belt to hit the minimums on the NCAA stat sheet, but safe to say she's worthy of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year considerations.
Tegan Micah, freshman - goalkeeper: It seems only fitting UCLA's defensive stalwart rooms with offensive attacker in Jessie Fleming. Micah, the Australian true frosh between the pipes, is the Bruins' first rookie to start on opening day since 2004. The reigning Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week has already won the accolade twice this season, thanks in part to her 29 saves to date.
Numerous threats: Both ASU and UCLA have many weapons at their disposal, as ASU has had eight different players score goals this season, while UCLA has nine. For the Sun Devils, Lara, Mader and Adriana Orozco have had multi-goal performances. For the Bruins, Fleming and Jenkins have netted multiple goals on the year with seven additional players finding the back of the net.
Once an Olympian, always an Olympian: Be on the lookout for UCLA honoring its Olympians on Thursday. The Bruins had six Olympians in Rio, including Fleming (Canada), goalkeeper coach Aline Reis (Brazil), alumna Rosie White (New Zealand), as well as former Bruin head coach and current USWNT head coach Jill Ellis who selected alums Mal Pugh and Sam Mewis to the squad.
#LaurenStrong: The Bruins debuted new warmup shirts to support UCLA alumna, U.S. Olympian, and the only four-time Pac-12 All-American Lauren Holiday, who was recently diagnosed with an operable brain tumor. UCLA’s shirt has the hashtag #LaurenStrong on the front. On the back is her last name with the number 8, which she wore at UCLA.