Sun Devil Soccer pushes No. 3 UCLA to the limit in overtime loss
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Sun Devil soccer team gave third-ranked UCLA all it wanted – and then some – in the Bruins' 4-3 overtime win on Sunday.
The Sun Devils (8-3-1, 0-2-1 Pac-12) scored more goals in the first half (three) than the Bruins had given up in all 10 of their games combined (two) coming into Sunday's game. The three goals were the most scored against the Bruins (10-0-1, 2-0-1) since the 2019 NCAA Tournament – a span of 27 games.
The two halves of regulation could not have been more contrasting. The first 45 minutes were filled with offensive fireworks as each team found the back of the three times. Defense was the theme of the second half as neither team was able to claim the go-ahead goal. In fact, more than 65 minutes of game time passed before UCLA's Olivia Athens ended the contest in the 96th minute.
"Devastated," was ASU head coach Graham Winkworth's initial thought after the game. "I mean, to lose in that fashion – you'd almost rather smashed than lose in that fashion.
"Game of two halves: first half, attacked very well, scored some lovely goals, the second half: defended really well, which we didn't in the first half. We're conceding soft goals in the penalty area, two from set pieces again, which is very frustrating and we need to do better in that phase of the game. We need to do better on set pieces, because we could have won today."
After capturing victories in its first five one-goal games of the season, ASU came up on the short end of such games twice this week as it was also edged 2-1 by No. 21 USC on Thursday.
After the Bruins claimed a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute, the Sun Devils were swift with their response, scoring three goals in less than 14 minutes to take a 3-1 lead.
Eva van Deursen's team leading sixth assist of the season set up Jazmine Wilkinson whose successful header tied the game at 1-1 in the 10th minute.
Douglas' outstanding attacking ability set up ASU's second goal. After crossing the 18, Douglas was the only Sun Devil among seven players in the penalty area. None of the blue jerseys nor UCLA's keeper would deny Douglas, who slipped her shot just inside the left post to give the Devils a 2-1 lead in the 12th minute. It was Douglas' 13th goal of the season (tied for fourth place in program history for most goals in a season) and the 40th of her career moving her within four goals of tying Cali Farquharson for second place on ASU's all-time list.
van Deursen and Douglas teamed up for one of ASU's finest goal scoring sequences of the season in the 24th minute. As she approached the 18, van Deursen slipped a pass to Douglas who immediately returned the favor setting up a 1v1 situation that van Deursen took full advantage of to give ASU a 3-1 lead.
Goals by the Bruins in the 29th and 30th minutes knotted the score at 3-3 at the half.
"We actually didn't change the way we played," Winkworth explained. "UCLA changed the way they were playing. When we went up 3-1, they shifted from a 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-2-3-1 and because of that it's three versus three in the midfield. What opened the game up for the first 20 minutes was the fact that they were playing four in the midfield, we were playing three. So, it was wide open. So, we were able to be successful on the counter-attack and they were able to have a lot of possession and then we could hit them quickly. But once they shifted, and once we were obviously 3-1 up and having success with that, it was man-versus-man all over the pitch. It kind of closed the game off and that's mainly why (neither team scored in) the second half.
"We did talk about how we need to defend set pieces better, but overall in open play we weren't giving them too many chances and they have got world class players So in open play we're defending well, we're just not defending well on set pieces and making too many errors close to goal."
Cori Sullivan, who scored the game-winning goal in ASU's OT win at UCLA last season, nearly ended Sunday's game on a cross that was just out of her reach.
Douglas (4/1), van Deursen (3/3), Sullivan (2/2) and Wilkinson (2/2) combined for 11 of ASU's 13 shots and eight of its nine shots on goal.
The Sun Devils, who have had 19 different players start this season due to injuries, will look to get into the Pac-12 win column next week when they travel to Oregon for games at Oregon State (Thursday at 6 p.m. MST on OSU live stream) and at Oregon (Sunday at 12 p.m. MST on Pac-12 Arizona).