Sun Devil Soccer comes up short at No. 14 Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. – For only the second time this season, the Sun Devil soccer team – ranked among the top 35 teams in the nation in scoring offense, assists per game and points per game at the start of the week – was held scoreless in a 2-0 loss to No. 14 Stanford on Thursday night.
The Cardinal (11-3-1, 5-1-1 Pac-12) scored one goal in each half (eighth minute and 63rd minute) to improve to 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
"Congratulations to Stanford. They are one of the best-coached and most talented teams in the nation," ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said. "They are fantastic and I think probably the best all-around team we've faced this year from front to back.
"I do think we were second to too many second balls and 50/50 balls but we continued to work hard and that's all we can do."
ALMOST A NEW GAME
As they have all season, the Sun Devils (8-6-2, 0-5-2 Pac-12) were more than willing to keep fighting in the face of adversity. Down 2-0, Nicole Douglas, who came into the game leading the nation in goals (15) and points (35), nearly cut ASU's deficit in half in the 70th minute. Even with every Stanford player aware of where No. 9 was anytime ASU was in the attacking third of the field, Douglas made the most of a brief moment she got free in the box and ripped off a shot that missed high.
"If she is able to score what would have been a very impressive goal [given the attention focused on her] then it makes the last part of the game very interesting," Winkworth said. "Obviously you want that type of chance to fall to her because of how incredible she has been all season long."
CONGRATULATIONS ON REPRESENTING
The Sun Devils were without two key players against Stanford, but for very good reason. Both senior team captain Alexia Delgado (Mexican National Team) and sophomore defender Tahlia Herman-Watt (New Zealand National Team) were not with the team for Thursday's game due to national team call-ups.
"Facing a team like Stanford on its home pitch is a tough assignment any year," noted Winkworth. "Not having Alexia and Tahlia made it even more challenging. That said, we support them 100 percent and our program is very proud of Alexia and Tahlia for being chosen to represent their national teams."
LOOKING AT CHALLENGES AS OPPORTUNITIES
In a season in which it has had 22 different players start because of injuries, Winkworth commended his squad for the team-first mentality it has played with all season. No matter which 11 players have been on the field at a given time, Winkworth and his staff know they are always going to always have a competitive squad that will never give anything less than 100-percent effort.
"Each game I'm proud of the players who are out on the field whether they are starters or filling in for one of their teammates who are not able play," Winkworth said. "And every player who has been injured has worked just as hard off the field so they can get back out there as soon as possible. [Isabel Dehakiz and Vildan Kardesler both had season-ending injuries last spring] and have been working so hard in their recovery efforts in order to get a chance to play toward the end of the season. I can't praise them enough for the effort they have been putting into their recovery."
Dehakiz returned to play earlier this month. On Thursday the team welcomed back sophomore defender Lucy Johnson who had missed the last five games due to injury.
"It was good for [Lucy] to get some minutes since she hasn't played for a while and she looked good after the game," Winkworth said. "It was great to get her back and we look forward to having her on the field more as she becomes more match fit."
LIFE ON THE ROAD
While Winkworth acknowledged, 'the better team won tonight,' he said the days leading up to Thursday's game were not ideal as it related to the team's preparations.
"We encountered some logistical issues on this road trip that unfortunately affected our ability as coaches to get the team prepared at the high level we expect of ourselves," Winkworth explained. "We'll just work harder as coaches and do all we can to get ready to play California on Sunday."
The Sun Devils conclude their road trip to the Bay Area on Sunday (12 pm MST) when they play at California. The game can be seen on Pac-12 Networks.