Sun Devil Soccer travels to Bay Area for contests at No. 14 Stanford, Cal
THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (8-5-2, 0-4-2 Pac-12) at No. 14 Stanford (10-3-1, 4-1-1 Pac-12)
WHEN: Thursday at 5 p.m. MST
WHERE: Laird Q. Cagan Stadium • Stanford, Calif.
WATCH: Pac-12 Network/Arizona/Bay Area
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil soccer team (8-5-2, 0-4-2 Pac-12) begins the last quarter of the regular season on the road when it travels to the Bay Area for games at No. 14 Stanford (Thurs. at 5 pm MST) & California (Sun. at 12 pm MST).
While the numbers have been to the contrary since Pac-12 play started on Sept. 24, ASU comes into Thursday's game seeking its first Pac-12 win. Outside of its ties at Washington (2-2 on Sept. 24) and vs. Washington State (2-2 on Oct. 15), all of ASU's Pac-12 contests have been decided by one goal. ASU has faced adversity all season – 22 different players have been in the starting lineup due to injuries – and has still managed to play at a high level that enabled it to jump out to leads of 2-0 (at Washington), 1-0 (vs. USC) and 3-1 (vs. UCLA). ASU's outstanding abilities on the attacking end also played a major role in the Sun Devils' 2-2 tie vs. WSU on Oct. 15. Down 2-0 after 30 minutes of game time ASU was faced with this task: To get any kind of result it would have to score two goals against the nation's top team in goals-against average and the top goalkeeper in goals-against average. It meant scoring one more goal than the Cougars had given up in their eight previous contests coming into the game. Given the circumstances, one could argue the Sun Devils responded to the challenge with one of their best performances of the season as Olivia Kearse-Thomas and Nicole Douglas both found the back of the net in a game that ended in a 2-2 draw.
— Sun Devil Soccer (@SunDevilSoccer) October 21, 2021
— Sun Devil Soccer (@SunDevilSoccer) October 18, 2021
Quality depth, resilience and a team-first mentality of playing for each other are among the reasons ASU did not fold when injuries started to pile. It did just the opposite as it put together its best nine-game record in program history (8-1). Included in ASU's non-conference wins was a 3-2 win over then-No. 21 and previously unbeaten Texas Tech on Sept. 12 in Tucson.
Although its hard work has yet to produce a win in league play, it has not deterred the team's spirit given what it almost accomplished the second week of Pac-12 play when the Sun Devils had leads against current No. 5 USC and current No. 8 UCLA, only to lose both games by a single goal – 2-1 vs. USC, 4-3-OT vs. UCLA. After winning all five of its one-goal games in non-conference play, ASU has been unlucky in the same situation in Pac-12 play with all four of its league losses coming by one goal. In its 1-0 setback at Oregon (Oct. 10), ASU failed to score for the only time this season despite an overwhelming 8-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Senior forward Nicole Douglas has been nothing short of sensational this season. The nation's leader in goals (15) and total points (35) – is also No. 3 in the nation in goals per game (1.00) and No. 4 in points per game (2.33) – Douglas has either scored or assisted on a goal in all but three games this season. ASU's contest at Oregon snapped a streak of seven consecutive games in which she scored at least one goal. Also among the nation's leaders is senior Eva van Deursen (33rd in assists per game/0.54).
— Sun Devil Soccer (@SunDevilSoccer) October 18, 2021
Douglas (15 goals/5 assists/35 points), van Deursen (3 goals/7 assists/13 points) & fellow seniors Olivia Nguyen (5 goals/2 assists/12 points), Cori Sullivan (1 goal/5 assists/7 points), Olivia Kearse-Thomas (3 goals/2 assist/8 points) and sophomore Jazmine Wilkinson (2 goals/1 assist/5 points) – with their extraordinary talent for scoring/setting up teammates – have combined to help ASU rank 32nd in the nation in assists per game (2.2), 34th in points per game (6.73) and 35th in scoring offense (2.27 goals per game), .
IN THE RANKINGS
After its 8-1 record in non-conference play, ASU earned a No. 15 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25, its highest in program history. ASU was then dropped from the Top 25 after its 2-2 tie at Washington (Sept. 24). ASU was the highest team receiving votes prior to its games vs. USC and UCLA.
SERIES NOTES VS STANFORD – STANFORD LEADS 15-5-3
Jazmine Wilkinson and Eva van Deursen scored in ASU's 2-0 win last season in Tempe. The win snapped Stanford's six-game winning streak in the overall series.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• This was the second straight season ASU started 5-0. On Sept. 5, ASU was looking for its first 6-0 start since 2000 before being defeated by then-No. 17 LSU, 5-2. Last season ASU started 6-0-2 before its first loss in the season's ninth game. ASU's best winning streak to start a season came in 2000 when it started 9-0. ASU's 8-1 represented the second-most wins after nine games in program history.
• Douglas followed up the eighth multi-goal game of her career (two in ASU's 2-2 tie at Washington on Sept. 24) by accounting for a pair of goals and one assist in ASU's near upsets of then-No. 21 USC and No. 3 UCLA. Douglas, who scored at least one goal in seven straight games prior to ASU's loss at Oregon, is currently in third place on ASU's all-time list in both career goals (42) and career points (99), is tied for second place in career GW goals (13) and tied for 10th in career assists (15). Douglas has the second-highest, single-season total in goals (15) and points (35) in program history. ASU Hall of Famer Stacey Tullock holds the single-season standards in both categories (17 goals/41 points in 1999).
• Douglas (15 goals) & Olivia Nguyen (5 goals) have combined for 20 of ASU's 34 goals. Although Douglas and Nguyen have accounted for the majority of the goals, ASU has had 10 different players find the back of the net this season. Kearse-Thomas (3), van Deursen (3), and Wilkinson (2) and have also scored multiple goals this season
• van Deursen missed ASU's games vs. then-No. 21 Texas Tech and at Colorado College due to national team call up. On Sept. 19, van Deursen helped the Dutch U23 National Team claim a 3-0 win over Sweden She made an immediate impact in her return to the team at Washington (Sept. 24) as she and Kiki Stewart assisted on Douglas' first goal of the game. Currently tied for No. 6 in program history with 17 career assists (seven of them coming this season), the next time she helps one of her teammates find the back of the net, van Deursen will move into a tie for fourth place in career assists and a tie for second place for most assists in a single season.
• ASU started the season with a pair of true freshman goalkeepers – Julia Ortega & Birta Gudlaugs each played a half in ASU's first two games – as the team was forced to go without two-year starter Giulia Cascaperan due to injury. Gudlaugs has played every minute 11 times this season and is the owner of three shutouts: at Mississippi State (Aug. 26), vs. Nebraska in Tucson (Sept. 9) and at Colorado College (Sept. 17). Ortega started ASU's contest at OSU (Oct. 7).
• ASU has overcome 1-0 deficits in three of its wins: vs. Central Arkansas, vs. Southeastern Louisiana and vs. CSUN. The Sun Devils would go on to wins those games by a combined score of 12-4.
• ASU has scored at least one goal in all but one game (at Oregon Oct. 10) and has scored multiple goals nine times this season. Against No. 3 UCLA (Oct. 3), the Sun Devils scored more goals in the first half (three) than the Bruins had given up in all 10 of their games combined (two) coming into the game. The three goals were the most scored against the Bruins since the 2019 NCAA Tournament – a span of 27 games.
• Because of injuries, the Sun Devils have had 22 different players in the starting lineup this season. Nicole Douglas and Callie Darst are the only players who have started every game this season.
• Douglas (Offensive POW/Week One), Lieske Carleer (Defensive POW/Week Two) and Birta Gudlaugs (goalkeeper of the week/Week Two) have combined for three Pac-12 Player of the Week honors this season.
• Nicole Douglas – Has started all 66 of her career games.
• Callie Darst – Has started 29 straight games and 51 of 52 career games.
• Lieske Carleer – Has started 46 of the 47 games she has played in/DNP vs. Nebraska (9/9) and Texas Tech (9/12) did not start at Washington (9/24) after starting and playing only five minutes vs. Colorado College (9/17).
• Alexia Delgado – Had started 19 of last 20 games she has played in and has started 54 of 61 career games. Returned from injury in ASU's contest at Washington (Sept. 24) after not playing since Aug. 22.
• Eva van Deursen – Started last 26 games she's played in & 61 of 64 career games. DNP vs. Texas Tech (9/12)/at Colorado College (9/17) due to international call-up.
• Jessica Hale – Had started 21 of last 22 games she has played in and 32 of 57 career ganes. Has missed ASU's last seven games due to injury.
• Jazmine Wilkinson – Has started 26 of 32 career games.
• Olivia Nguyen – Has started 30 of last 33 games and 31 of 56 career games. All nine of her goals have comes in the last two seasons.
• Cori Sullivan – Has started 30 of 44 career games.
• Olivia Kearse-Thomas – Has played in 79 games with 42 career starts.
• Isabel Dehakiz – Started the first six games last season before a season-ending injury. Has started 29 of 46 career games. The 44th appearance of her ASU career (played 21 minutes vs. UCLA on Oct. 3), was the first time she played since last season. She was in the starting lineup at Oregon State (Oct. 7).
• Jayda Hylton-Pelaia – Has 67 starting assignments in 71 career games. Has started 12 of her 15 games as a Sun Devil after transferring from East Carolina.
• Lucy Johnson – Has started 17 of 21 career games. Has started six of 10 this season, missing five due to injury.
• Dai Williams – Has started 14 of 37 games with one start in 11 games in 2021.
• Tahlia Herman-Watt – Started nine of 16 games as a freshman last spring and has played in 11 games this season with her first start coming at Oregon State (Oct. 7).
• *Giulia Cascapera – Started all 34 career games coming into the season. Is not likely to return from preseason injury.
• *Vildan Kardesler – Originally joined ASU as a transfer from Pitt. Has started 30 of 40 career games, including five of the six contests she played in last spring before her season was cut short due to injury. *Has not played this season
RECAPPING LAST SEASON
ASU is coming off its best season under head coach Graham Winkworth, finishing the regular season with an 9-6-2 record and making the postseason for the first time since 2014 and the eighth time in school history. ASU made it to the second round of the tournament to become the fifth ASU soccer team to advance that far.
Winkworth and company boasted an undefeated non-conference slate, including an overtime comeback thriller at Grand Canyon to protect the win-streak. ASU continued its unbeaten streak through eight games and notched wins against UCLA, Stanford, and USC to become only the fourth team in history to beat all three programs in a single season. With a 4-4-2 record in Pac-12 Conference play, the Sun Devils finished in the middle of the table after being picked to finish last in the preseason poll.
The Sun Devils scored 28 goals in 17 games, second-most in the Pac-12 Conference. ASU boasted one of the strongest defensive lines in the Pac-12, conceding only 16 goals and forcing ASU's keepers to make only 57 saves - fifth-fewest amongst Conference competitors.