Sun Devil Soccer upsets No. 21 Texas Tech 3-2
TUCSON, Ariz. – A week after coming up short in its first opportunity of the season to knock off a Top 25 team, the Sun Devil soccer team took full advantage of its second chance as Olivia Kearse-Thomas, Nicole Douglas and Jazmine Wilkinson all scored in ASU's 3-2 win over No. 21 and previously unbeaten Texas Tech on Sunday.
Coming into the matchup, the Sun Devils were 0-4 all-time against the Red Raiders. In a bit of anomaly, all four of the prior contests were not only played at a neutral site, but also played in Tucson. On Sunday, the Sun Devils (7-1) emphatically exorcised any demons from past meetings in scoring the most goals against Texas Tech (6-1-1) in a regular season, non-overtime game since 2017. ASU's seven wins represents the most wins the program has after eight games since the 2000 team started 8-0.
"It's huge to get a win over a top 25 team. It's huge win over a top 50 (RPI) team," ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said of Sunday's win. "If (Texas Tech) does what I expect them to do, and win a lot of games the rest of the way, they will be in the NCAA tournament. They'll be a top 50, or top 25 program and our resume is boosted by such a win, but also confidence-wise. You know- we lost two more players from Thursday's game before this game and we still performed. We can't afford to lose too many more because we are running out, but we are doing a fabulous job with the 'next woman up' attitude."
Despite scoring the first three goals of the game, the Sun Devils could not rest easy until after the expiration of the full 90 minutes as the Red Raiders scored two goals in just over seven minutes, the second coming in the 71st minute to whittle ASU's lead down to a single goal.
Winkworth credited elements of the team's strong culture in being able not only to jump out to the lead it did, but also in its ability to hold off the Red Raiders at a stage in the game when all the momentum seemed to be on Texas Tech's side.
"Culture comes first in our program, and we've got an incredible culture," Winkworth explained. "We've got an incredible group of people. They're wonderful players, they're amazing people, and I just enjoy coming to work with them every day. We all have our tired moments, but wow, they're special people. I told them how proud I am of them."
??Post-game talks ?? pic.twitter.com/QnCRWmUF9d
— Sun Devil Soccer (@SunDevilSoccer) September 12, 2021
It appeared the teams were headed for a scoreless first half until the 44th minute when Dai Williams found an opening along the sideline that allowed the junior forward to dribble into the penalty area and fire off a ball that was redirected by Kearse-Thomas into the net to give ASU a 1-0 lead at the half.
The Sun Devils extended their lead to 2-0 exactly seven minutes into the second half after defender Jayda Hylton-Pelaia was fouled inside the penalty area. Douglas was successful on the ensuing penalty kick, her eighth goal of the season, to double ASU's lead.
Wilkinson became the 10th different Sun Devil to score a goal this season when she calmly drilled a shot that came bouncing out to her after a scrum from an ASU corner kick. Wilkinson's goal gave ASU a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute.
With still a third of the game to be played, the Red Raiders still had time to make it a game. Texas Tech goals in the 64th minute and the 71st minute cut ASU's lead to 3-2 with more than 19 minutes remaining.
The Sun Devils would not be denied as they allowed only one shot the rest of the game while thwarting corner kicks by the Red Raiders in the 80th minute and again in the 88th minute.
ASU goalkeeper Birta Gudlaugs, who recorded her second shutout of the season in Thursday's win over Nebraska, made six of her seven saves in the second half. ASU's defensive effort as a whole was punctuated by its ability to limit the amount of damage the Red Raiders were able to inflict on their 13 corner kicks in the game, compared to just four for ASU.
ASU was able to flip the result of its first contest of 2021 against a Top 25 team, a 5-2 loss vs. then-No. 17 and current No. 7 LSU last Sunday, a game in which the Sun Devils had more shots (22-17), more shots on goal (11-8) and a slight 4-3 advantage in corner kicks in.
The Sun Devils return to action on Friday (2 pm MST/3 pm MDT) when they travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to face Colorado College.