Sun Devil Soccer begins final homestand vs. Colorado on Thursday
THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (8-7-2, 0-6-2 Pac-12) vs. Colorado (7-4-3, 3-3-1 Pac-12)
WHEN: Thursday at 5 p.m. MST
WHERE: Sun Devil Soccer Stadium • Click here for tickets
WATCH: Pac-12 Arizona/Mountain
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil soccer team (8-7-2, 0-6-2 Pac-12) plays its last two home games of the 2021 season this week when it hosts Colorado (7-6-3, 2-3-3) on Thursday (5 p.m. MST) and Utah (6-8-3, 1-5-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Sunday's contest will be Senior Day. The program will honor senior student-athletes Lara Barbieri, Isabel Dehakiz, Jessica Hale, Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, Vildan Kardesler, Julia Koharko, Olivia Kearse-Thomas, Hikaru Minami, Nicole Soto, Cori Sullivan and Anna White following Sunday's game.
STATE OF PLAY
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 up. 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 its spirit given what it almost accomplished the second week of Pac-12 play it had leads against current No. 10 USC and current No. 5 UCLA, only to lose both games by a one goal – 2-1 vs. USC/4-3-OT vs. UCLA.
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 had been decided by one goal coming into last week's Bay Area road trip. Its 2-0 loss at Stanford was the first time in league play in which ASU was involved in a contest decided by more than one goal. That setback was followed by another one-goal game, a 1-0 loss at Cal played amid heavy rains and 30 mph winds. ASU was without two key players for both of its contests last week – senior midfielder and team captain Alexia Delgado (Mexican National Team) and sophomore defender Tahlia Herman-Watt (New Zealand National Team) – due to national team call-ups.
ASU has faced adversity all season – 22 different players have been in the starting lineup – 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. Washington State 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 & top goalkeeper in goals-against average. It meant scoring one more goal than WSU had given up in its eight previous contests coming into the game. Given the circumstances, one could argue ASU responded to the challenge with one of its best performances of the season as Olivia Kearse-Thomas and Nicole Douglas both scored in a game that ended in a 2-2 draw.
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 five of its six league losses coming by one goal. Prior to last week's games, the only other time this season ASU did not score was in a 1-0 loss at Oregon (Oct. 10) despite an 8-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Senior forward Nicole Douglas has been nothing short of sensational this season. Tied for the national lead in total goals (15) and third in total points (35) – is also No. 4 in the nation in goals per game (0.88) and No. 8 in points per game (2.06) – Douglas has either scored or assisted on a goal in all but five games this season. ASU's contest at Oregon snapped a streak of seven consecutive games in which she scored at least one goal.
TOP OFFENSIVE CONTRIBUTORS
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) and Olivia Kearse-Thomas (3 goals/2 assist/8 points) have combined for 26 of ASU's 34 goals this season. Sophomore Jazmine Wilkinson (two goals) has also scored multiple goals this season while senior Cori Sullivan is tied with Douglas for second on the team in assists (5).
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.
SERIES NOTES VS COLORADO – SERIES TIED 5-5-2
Both teams have enjoyed a stint in the series in which they went 4-0-1 against the opposition in a five-year stretch. The Sun Devils are looking for their first win in the series since 2015.
• 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.
• Douglas followed up the eighth multi-goal game of her career (scored two in ASU's 2-2 tie at Washington on Sept. 24) by scoring for a pair of goals and one assist in ASU's near upsets of then-No. 21 USC and then-No. 3 UCLA. Douglas, who scored at least one goal in seven straight games prior to ASU's loss at Oregon (Oct. 10), is currently in third place on ASU's all-time list in both career goals (42) & 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 program's 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. 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 (currently 36th in the nation in assists per game - 0.50) 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 12 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 contests at OSU (Oct. 7) and at Cal (Oct. 24). She made a season-high six saves at Cal.
• ASU has scored at least one goal in all but three games (at Oregon - Oct. 10, at Stanford - Oct. 21 and at Cal - Oct. 24) 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.
• ASU has 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 68 of her career games.
• Callie Darst – Has started 31 straight games and 53 of 54 career games.
• Lieske Carleer – Has started 48 of the 49 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. Due to Mexican National Team call up, was not with the team for its games at Stanford (Oct. 21) and at Cal (Oct. 24).
• Eva van Deursen – Started last 28 games she's played in & 63 of 66 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 nine games due to injury.
• Jazmine Wilkinson – Has started 26 of 34 career games.
• Olivia Nguyen – Has started 32 of last 35 games and 33 of 58 career games. All nine of her goals have comes in the last two seasons.
• Cori Sullivan – Has started 32 of 46 career games.
• Olivia Kearse-Thomas – Has played in 81 games with 43 career starts.
• Isabel Dehakiz – Started the first six games last season before a season-ending injury. Has started 31 of 49 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), at Stanford (Oct. 21) and at Cal (Oct. 24).
• Jayda Hylton-Pelaia – Has 69 starting assignments in 73 career games. Has started 14 of her 17 games as a Sun Devil after transferring from East Carolina.
• Lucy Johnson – Has started 17 of 23 career games. Has started six of 12 games this season, missing five due to injury. Returned to action at Stanford on Oct. 21.
• 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 last spring & has played in 11 games this season (one start at Oregon State (Oct. 7). Was not with team at Stanford (Oct. 21) or at Cal (Oct. 24) due to New Zealand National Team assignment.
• *Giulia Cascapera – Started all 34 career games coming into the season but has not played due 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.