Douglas delivers fourth-career hat trick in Sun Devil Soccer’s 5-0 win over Grambling State
TEMPE – After a 13-day hiatus, Sun Devil Soccer remained unbeaten after taking down Grambling State 5-0 on Wednesday night. Nicole Douglas, the program's all-time leading goal scorer, achieved the fourth single-game, school-record tying hat trick of her Sun Devil career and added to her collegiate resume by becoming the program's career leader in points (126) and game-winning goals (17).
Douglas, who has scored all eight of her goals this season in ASU's last four games, now has 27 goals since the start of the 2021 season, a span of 25 games.
"From freshman year to now, I can tell you [Nicole Douglas] is a completely different player. She grew so much, on and off the field," graduate Alexia Delgado noted after playing with Douglas since they arrived in Tempe in 2018. "She takes things seriously. She has just become that athlete that she needed to be to break the record. I'm super happy for her."
Delgado scored in back-to-back games for the first time in her career as a Sun Devil thanks to superior passing by Eva van Deursen and Enasia Colon in the 34th minute of the game. Goalkeeper's Pauline Nelles and Birta Gudlaugsdottir split playing time as they kept a clean sheet for the Sun Devils, the first since Sept. 17, 2021 against Colorado College in a 2-0 win.
NO GAME IN 13 DAYS? NO PROBLEM.
Arizona State (3-0-2) dominated the first half, putting up 19 shots with 10 shots on goal by the end of the first half.
The play of sophomore Keri Matthews served as an early sign that the Sun Devils would need minimal time to prove the gap since their last game did not halt their offensive urgency. Matthews took the ball down the flank, wearing down the defense in the opening minutes. Douglas had a good look early in the game, with her rebound shot hitting the crossbar to kick off what would become an eventful first half, as ASU fired three shots in under a minute. The Sun Devils had twelve shots before Grambling State (3-6) posted its first of the game.
"I thought we started really well and controlled the game," ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said when asked if the layoff affected the Sun Devils. "I particularly liked how we switched the point of attack for that first goal," Winkworth added about how the team set up what led to Douglas' first goal of the game.
DOUGIE DELIVERS AGAIN
Coming off a record setting performance against UAB almost two weeks ago. No. 9 found the back of the net not once, not twice, but three times. It started in the 20th minute thanks to a sharp assist from Olivia Nguyen. Douglas received the pass, turned her defender inside the box and delivered a brilliant strike to help ASU gather an early lead. It took less than 20 minutes of game time to achieve the hat trick, as she quickly dribbled the ball past two defenders and delivered a strike to the left side of the post to give her five goals in the last two games.
With Nguyen assisting Douglas' first goal, and van Deursen and Colon assisting Delgado, this marks back-to-back games in which Nguyen and van Deursen have garnered assists. Midfielder and maestro van Deursen notched assist number 23, to put her in sole possession of second place in career assists in Sun Devil Soccer history, and three away from matching the top assist spot.
Combined with the outstanding defensive effort in front of them, Nelles (one save) and Gudlaugsdottir (two saves) teamed up to help ASU earn its first shutout of the season.
Sophomore Lauren Kirberg notched her first career assist as she carefully placed a ball where junior Jazmine Wilkson was able to leap and score on a header for the last of ASU's five goals.
COOL, CALM, COLLECTED
The fiery offensive performance was sustained by an overall secure and confident performance from the defense. Showing mounds of trust in each other, no Sun Devil defender was afraid of venturing out to ward off potential danger from the opposition's offense, as Lieske Carleer and company were there to back their fellow defenders.
The key on defense came in part due to a textbook example of resting defense, with Coach Winkworth commenting "if one is wide and high, the other comes inside. This is so that when the opposition clears the ball, they are sitting there ready. The girls did a great job knowing when to attack around the outside and when to join the midfield and just sit."
Under minimal pressure, ASU only conceded one corner, which came late in the second half.
The Sun Devils return to Sun Devil Soccer Stadium on Sunday (7 p.m.) to face Toledo in their final non-conference game. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.