Defense brings the offense in @SunDevilSoccer’s 5-1 win at UAB
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Defenders Lieske Carleer and Lucy Johnson both found the back of the net and senior forward Olivia Nguyen scored her team-leading fourth goal of the season in Sun Devil Soccer's 5-1 win at UAB on Sunday.
On the offensive end, the Sun Devils (4-0) outshot UAB (1-3) 15-6. Defensively, ASU allowed only six shots for the game and freshman goalkeeper Birta Gudlaugs made three saves.
"I'm delighted (with the win)," ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said. "Every time you go on the road and pick up a positive result, it's a wonderful thing and I thought the girls were very engaged and defended very well. It's important to pick up road victories and today was a good one against a very well-coached, talented UAB team.
"It's great (to get offense from your defense). It takes a little pressure off the attacking players when you can score goals from other areas, so for three of our back four to get on the scoresheet is huge. I'm delighted for them and delighted for [Olivia Nguyen] to score another goal and also for really happy for [Olivia Kearse-Thomas] to get her first goal of the season, as well. It's always important for a forward to get that first one, so delighted for her, too."
After the Sun Devil defense thwarted a potential scoring opportunity by UAB in the game's first minute – Gudlaugs made the save – the Sun Devils would take the next eight shots of the half, placing four of them on frame.
ASU scored exactly 13 minutes into the game when senior midfielder Eva van Deursen sent a well-placed ball into the box on a free kick and junior defender Lieske Carleer did the rest, heading the the ball into the net for the early lead.
In the 28th minute, senior forward Olivia Nguyen scored her team-leading fourth goal of the season after taking a ball in the box and weaving her way around the defense to find a window for a shot that found its way into the bottom right corner of the net. Passes from teammates Cori Sullivan and Tahlia Herman-Watt both help set up Nguyen's goal.
In the 51st minute, ASU once again capitalized on a set piece. Although no Sun Devils were officially credited with a goal or assist, it nonetheless resulted in a goal after van Deursen served a ball into the box that was deflected into the goal by a UAB defender and extended ASU's lead to 3-0.
The Blazers prevented a second straight shutout by the Sun Devils after getting on the board at the top of the 65thminute.
ASU would answer at the bottom of the 68th minute when van Deursen collected her second assist of the day after setting up Lucy Johnson who took van Deursen's pass in stride as she was going to goal and put the ball away for her first goal of the season, once again giving ASU a three-goal advantage, 4-1.
Senior forward Olivia Kearse-Thomas capped off the scoring with a goal in the 87th minute, capitalizing on a wide open shot after ASU's leading scorer Nicole Douglas was initially denied.
"I'm just so proud of the mentality of the whole squad because it has been a challenge to handle all of the bumps and bruises and knocks that we've got," added Winkworth. "They've been wonderful in the way they've handled it and this is another confidence boost to get two more positive results against two good teams. I'm looking forward to playing on our home pitch, again."
Sunday's win extended ASU's winning streak in regular season, non-conference games to 10 (9-0-1) going back to the 2019 season.
Up next for the Sun Devils is the annual Sun Devil Classic. The action kicks off on Thursday when the Sun Devils take on CSUN at 10 am at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. That game will be followed by Arizona vs. LSU at 1 p.m. On Sunday, Arizona faces CSUN in the first game of the doubleheader at 11 am and will be followed by the Sun Devils taking on LSU at 2 p.m. Both of Thursday's games can be seen on ASU's Live Stream while both of Sunday's games will be televised by Pac-12 Networks.