Graham Winkworth Q&A Week Nine
THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (8-5-1, 0-4-1 Pac-12) vs. Washington State (10-2-1, 4-1 Pac-12)
WHEN: Friday at 7 p.m. MST
WHERE: Sun Devil Soccer Stadium • Click here to purchase tickets
WATCH: ASU Live Stream 2
LIVE STATS: Click here
As the Sun Devils prepare to face Washington State on Friday night, Graham Winkworth talks about what the team needs to do to get the results that are more reflective of the soccer they have been playing, the importance of Friday night's Pink Game for Breast Cancer Awareness and the return of midfielder Isabel Dehakiz from an injury that ended her season last spring.
After reviewing the film, do you have any additional thoughts on last week's contests?
(On Sunday), we outshot a team 8-1 on goal and lost and that was a deflected shot that went in. And then after the first 20 minutes of the game, we absolutely dominated the match and lost. And so it was really demoralizing and at the same time I feel like a broken record saying we are playing beautiful soccer and not getting a result. The difference between this team and two years ago when we were struggling is we were playing poorly two years ago and losing. Right now, we are playing really well and losing. I have shown the team some statistics this week from the areas where we are not playing at the level we need to be and areas that we need to show individual and team improvement. But they are working hard and that's all we can do is keep working.
On the play of the back line allowing one shot on goal on Sunday:
They played really well. We tried something different in that game. I don't think that will be the way to play against Washington State, but we tried something different and it was the right call for that game. We limited Oregon to one shot on goal and (its goal) was on a deflection. They didn't really cause us any problems at all, but we were not clinical at the other end of the pitch and so we need more people to step up and score goals and that is something we are working hard on.
On the importance of the team getting first Pac-12 win and how it can potentially swing the momentum of the season:
It's so difficult because we picked up all those results at the beginning of the season. And then at Washington we are up 2-0 and we made errors to let them tie the game. We should have tied USC 1-1. We were up on UCLA 3-1 in a game where we made mistakes in the penalty area to lose the game and it's the same thing again against Oregon State. Against Oregon, we defended really well, but against Oregon State we made mistakes in the penalty area that have cost us dearly. We have got to get more aggressive, we've got to win headers, win 50-50 challenges because as attractive as the soccer is we are playing, ultimately teams are knocking us around a bit and mixing it up. I want to praise (Nicole Douglas). She is getting whacked left, right and center, probably the most of any player in the country. No matter what, she is working her socks off every single time and so we need some players to step up and mix it up a little bit more for us physically. But we also have to have the players that can physically take it and Dougie is one, for example, who has done that this season and I'm really proud of that.
On Washington State:
They are a very direct team. The ball will be in the air a lot. They are very fast, very physical and so we expect that sort of match. It's not going to necessarily be one for the (soccer) purist, but at the same time they are very well organized, they don't concede goals, they have a really good goalkeeper and they work extremely hard. They are a very hard working team and they are not afraid to mix it up and so we have to do our best to try and match that a little bit more than we have done in recent weeks.
On Friday's Breast Cancer Awareness game and its importance:
(Breast Cancer) is such a devasting disease that causes so much loss. I love the fact that so many people across the world come together and celebrate the fight against the disease. That sort of unity is inspiring because that gives people hope that there will be a cure one day for all forms of cancer. And so I love the togetherness and unity the world shows in these kinds of initiatives. It is inspiring and very important we do our small part in promoting the awareness.
On the team's ability to score goals:
When you analyze games there is something called expected goals and each shot is given a value. Dougie scores more than her expected goal value and we need more players to contribute at this level if we are going to be successful in this league. We need to outperform our expected goals. For example, last spring Giulia Cascapera should have conceded 22 goals based on that statistic but only conceded 15 and so that means she is making some saves above and beyond the average goalkeeper and at this level you need to be above and beyond. And so daily, we are looking within our squad to stand out both in the goal and offensively to perform above the average level and that is not easy to do against such quality opponents. But we work hard every day and have had a good week so far of training and I'm hopeful as we move into the latter part of the season more players will get back into scoring goals because I have a lot of confidence in them. What gives me that confidence is how hard they work.
On the team's record not reflecting how well it has played:
Ultimately, I'm proud of the fact we are putting the team in position to win matches because we would have a winning record in the conference if games were decided by expected goals. Unfortunately, they are decided by real goals. Ultimately, our quality in both penalty areas is what is going to decide the match. I'm excited we are creating enough chances to outperform teams to give us better chances than our opponents. But we have to work hard in stopping those chances going in for the opponents and taking our chances at the other end. (According to the expected goals metric) we should have won the game 2.2 – 0.3 on Sunday and we found a way to lose 1-0. I'm excited we are putting the team in position to win, but disappointed in the quality we are showing in both penalty areas.
On Isabel Dehakiz and her comeback from last season's injury:
I'm really proud of her. She really wants to play and so she is going to do everything she can to play. She has worked her socks off multiple times. She has come back from an ACL injury in five months and is out there on the pitch playing and doing extremely well. She is working hard to get back to where she was before the injury, but I am so proud of her because of the work rate she shows and her desire to be out there. It's not the first time she has had an injury like that. When it happened to her last season, there were probably (some people who doubted she could come back), but I said,'No, this is Iz and Iz is special. I don't think she is quite done yet.' And she has proven me right because I had no doubt she was going to find a way to get back this season because she is that type of person. I'm excited for her and back playing for her senior year and hopefully we can finish that year on a positive note. Her leadership qualities have been important for everyone to see.
On any recent performances that have stood out:
I would say Lauren Kirberg is doing really well. In the last game we played with a back three and it was kind of ideal for her because we were able to get a feel for her out there with Lieske and Callie. However with the likelihood of moving back to a back four, she is really pushing those two players now for a starting position in the middle. And so it is giving me a 'positive' headache because I don't know which ones I'm going to pick because it is very close right now between the three of them for those two spots.