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No. 15 Sun Devil Soccer and Washington battle to 2-2 tie in Pac-12 opener

Sep 24, 2021

SEATTLE – For the second consecutive season the No. 15 Sun Devil soccer team and Washington were not able to determine a winner after 110 minutes of play. Nearly seven months – and 30 degrees cooler – after playing to a 1-1 tie in the desert, the Sun Devils and Huskies battled to a 2-2 draw on Friday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

It took Nicole Douglas a little more than 25 minutes to secure the eighth multi-goal game of her career to put the Sun Devils (8-1-1, 0-0-1 Pac-12) up 2-0, a lead that would remain for the remainder of the half. Unfortunately for ASU, goals by the Huskies (2-4-2, 0-0-1) in the 67th and 77th minutes knotted the score at 2-2 and eventually forced overtime where neither team was able to secure the victory.
"If you can feel two emotions at the same time that are completely conflicting, that is how I feel," ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said. "I am delighted with the performance and devastated with the result. Outside of set pieces and the first 10 minutes, I felt like we controlled the game, created the better chances and played some great football. 
"Ultimately we conceded too many weak free kicks and corner kicks and didn't defend them well and so that will be something to focus on next week. Having said that, it is very difficult to pick up points on the road in the Pac-12. Even though it could be looked at as two points lost, we are going to look at it as one point gained because this is not an easy place to come and play."
Both teams had four shots on goal, fittingly for a game that ended in tie. Overall, Washington had advantages in shots (15-9) and was responsible for 10 of the 17 fouls committed in the game, while the Sun Devils had a slight 7-6 edge in corner kicks.
Douglas put the Sun Devils up early in the 17th minute after being on the receiving end of consecutive passes from Kiki Stewart and Eva van Deursen. The latter's pass set up a 1v1 situation that Douglas made the most of by scoring her 10thgoal in as many games.
Douglas struck again in the 26th minute, scoring on a penalty kick after teammate Cori Sullivan was fouled by a Washington defender in the box.
Although the Sun Devils went to the locker room with a 2-0 lead, there was one particular what-if, might-have-been scenario that Winkworth thought could have resulted in a second penalty kick and possible 3-0 lead.
The scenario in question came moments after Washington's goalkeeper Olivia Sekany came out to challenge Sun Devil forward Olivia Nguyen who was not only foulded by a Washington defender, but appeared to be fouled in the penalty area. Ultimately, it was ruled Nguyen was fouled outside the penalty area and instead of a being awarded a penalty kick, the Sun Devils were given a free kick. 
"Unfortunately, none of the officials – and they all have very difficult jobs out there – had a vantage point that allowed them to see (Olivia was fouled in the penalty area)," Winkworth explained. "It's disappointing when that happens because it can affect the result of the game. Ultimately, I was delighted with the positive response our players had in that instance and each time they were faced with adversity tonight."
The Huskies cut ASU's lead in half in the 67th minute after a free kick from long distance by UW's Jessika Cowart sailed past everyone's reach. Sun Devil goalkeeper Birta Gudlaugs was preparing to contest a sliding shot by a Washington attacker in the box. The sliding attacker just missed contacting the ball and Gudlaugs was unable to make the save after the untouced ball continued on its original trajectory and into the goal. 
The Sun Devils nearly answered back with a goal of their own as a shot by Nguyen was on target, but a diving save by Sekany denied Nguyen what would have been her sixth goal of the season and – more importantly – a 3-1 lead for ASU.
"I think if that goes in – and their keeper pulled off a wonderful save – I think we win the game," Winkworth said. "It would have been a gut-wrenching moment (for Washington) to pull within a goal and then to have it immediately brushed away with a third goal for us." 
Summer Yates' goal off another set piece in the 77th minute tied the game putting the two teams right back where they started.
Neither team had a shot on goal in either of the overtime periods and the game would end in a 2-2 tie.
The Sun Devils were aided in Friday's game by the return of midfield players van Deursen (international call up) and Alexia Delgado (injury) and defender Lieske Carleer (injury). van Deursen had an immediate impact with her team-leading fifth assist of the season. Also making her debut on Friday was freshman Keri Matthews, who had a pair of shots, including one on goal. 
"Eva did a great job and I was delighted to have her back," Winkworth said. "She is a midfield general who helps us control the game. It was also great to see some our players who have been limited by injuries back on the field again."
Up next for the Sun Devils are home contests vs. USC (Thurs., Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. MST) and vs. third-ranked UCLA (Sun., Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. MST). Tickets for either contest can be purchased by clicking here.