Catching up with Arizona State's Nicole Douglas, the top scorer in women's college soccer
Nobody scored more goals than Nicole Douglas last season.
Not in the Pac-12. Not in the nation.
The Arizona State forward netted 19 in 2021, leading Division I and setting a new Sun Devil single-season record.
It won't be the last time Douglas etches her name in the ASU record books.
With 46 career goals, the London, England native only needs five more to break the school's all-time record currently held by Stacey Tullock. She is also within striking distance for the all-time records in points and assists, also held by Tullock.
Pac-12.com caught up with Douglas before she begins her fifth and final season on Thursday when the Sun Devils host South Dakota State at 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Arizona.
Pac-12.com: What would it mean to you to break ASU's all-time scoring record?
Nicole Douglas: "Going in as a freshman in 2018, I never thought about breaking any records or anything. I just wanted to get game time and contribute to the team as much as possible. So for me to be five goals away from beating another record, words can't describe it. And if it wasn't for my teammates and the talent that we have on this team, it wouldn't be possible, so I have them to thank as well."
Pac-12.com: Last season in particular was a big year for you. What was clicking?
ND: "I have talent all around me on the field. Eva (van Deursen) broke a record (for most assists in ASU history) as well. She's obviously been providing me assists. And everybody works so hard on the team. You can put any starting 11 out on the field and we'd all work so hard. Having those people around me makes my job a lot easier, and I just went in a game at a time, not really thinking about, 'Oh, I need to score another goal.' It's more about 'we need to win this game' and then I just let my talent follow."
Pac-12.com: For people who have never seen you play, what would you say makes you unique as a player?
ND: "I think I work really hard defensively. Some nines can just stay up high and wait for the ball, but I like to contribute to the team and press as much as we can, win the ball back and go straight to goal. I think that's a strength of my game. Obviously scoring goals is another strength, but I feel like I can read the game really well as well. So if there was like a girl running on the left wing, and my body is facing the right wing, I'd be able to see that girl. And the position that I play is more like a false nine role. So one of my strengths is receiving the ball with my back to goal and then playing my wingers through."
Pac-12.com: Of all the goals you've scored, is there one that you'll always remember?
ND: "I have two. The first one would be against UCLA. I think I dribbled through three defenders and then just slotted it with my left foot in the corner — and that was to go 2-1 up. Sadly, we lost the game in overtime, but that was one of the best goals I scored."
— Sun Devil Soccer (@SunDevilSoccer) October 3, 2021
"But probably if I had to pick one it would probably be my first game of last season because it was the first game that I played since my nan passed. To be able to go in and score that goal for her made me really happy and I hope I made her happy and proud."
Pac-12.com: Why did you come to the United States to play college soccer?
ND: "I was at Chelsea before. I was there for I think 11 years. That was my childhood club where I grew up, and then I just wanted a change. I wanted new competition, new way of living, just something different because I was so used to being at Chelsea. I was very comfortable and I wanted to step out of that comfort zone and experience something different. The US gave me that opportunity, as well as studying and getting an education. It was a hard decision to come over to the US, but I don't regret any decision that I've made."
Pac-12.com: What was it about ASU that made you want to go there?
ND: "I really loved the atmosphere of all the girls on the team, the team culture. I loved Arizona as a state because I knew that's where I was going to be living for the next four — well, now four and a half — years. The coaches as well. I feel like we have a good connection because they're English as well. So for me it was somewhat easier to transfer over from England to America because the way they play here is very similar to how I played in England, so I didn't really have to change much about my game, which is something that I looked for because I knew my strengths as a player and I wanted to bring those strengths to a team. ASU gave me that opportunity — and the facilities are amazing as well."
Pac-12.com: What excites you the most about this year's team?
ND: "The depth of the squad that we have. You could start anyone on the team and they'd put out a quality performance. When someone gets on the ball, I'm not worried about what they're going to do. I have complete faith in every single player on the team. Our culture is really, really strong at the moment and we're gonna keep building on it as a group. And the freshmen coming in, they all are technically so good and they've worked their ass off in the offseason because they're already fit and they're ready to start off our games on Thursday."
Pac-12.com: What are your goals for this season?
ND: "Ultimately, we want to be Pac-12 champions. That is our ultimate goal — and to make the NCAA Tournament. We can do that by putting the best version of ourselves on the field. Coach (Graham Winkworth) believes in every single one of us to be able to do our job and do our role right and to the best that we possibly can."
Pac-12.com: You graduated last spring and are pursuing a master's degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education. What do you want to do after your time at ASU?
ND: "I want to continue my career and go play professionally. That's my ultimate goal. I want to play soccer for as long as I can. And then after, we'll see. A lot of people have said that I'd be a really good soccer coach, so who knows? But right now my focus is being as successful as I can personally and as a team for this last season with ASU."
Pac-12.com: Do you have a message for Sun Devil fans heading into the season?
ND: "Come out and support us this season. We loved your support last season. We want everyone that can come along to our games and support us because it really does make a difference."