Sun Devil Soccer’s unbeaten streak snapped at eight in loss to Stanford
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Sun Devil soccer team's unbeaten streak to start the season came to an end on Sunday as Stanford scored the game's only goals in the second half of its 2-0 win.
The Sun Devils (6-1-2, 2-1 Pac-12), who got off to 6-0-2 start for the second time in three seasons, were outshot 19-7 in the game. The Cardinal (9-2-1, 2-1) performed at a level that was more representative of the No. 6 ranking it held the first week of September, not the team that came into Sunday's game unranked.
"Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and you were beaten by a better team, so congratulations to Stanford," ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said. "Disappointed with the quality we showed and mainly because I don't think we played how we want to play. I think we started banging balls forward and it was disappointing that we weren't brave enough in the second half to continue to want to play soccer the way we've been playing all season. So, I think it was probably part of it that we kept turning over possessions way too easily."
ASU's first loss came in a game in which it did not score a goal for the first time this season. What did not show up on the final stat sheet was the number of missed connections the Sun Devils had when they possessed the ball in the attacking third of the field. ASU had multiple instances in which it put together a string of passes before failing to link up of the last pass that would have almost certainly ended with a shot on goal.
"I think we created the chances, we just didn't create the shots," Winkworth explained. "There were a couple of cutbacks where the ball was coming right across the six and we've got to attack it. We can't rely on the same few plays to score a goal. We have to be more aggressive in the box from other areas as well and those positions are always up for grabs there every week… I don't care if they miss, I'm more concerned they don't put themselves in a position to miss."
Although the Cardinal had a 9-2 advantage in shots in the first half, it managed just two shots on goal. In the second half it placed six of its 10 shots on frame.
Stanford broke the stalemate in the in the 57th minute and added an insurance goal in the 79th minute.
Freshman goalkeeper Pauline Nelles made six saves to help keep the Sun Devils in position to either take the lead or tie the game until Stanford scored its second goal.
Keri Matthews led ASU with three shots, including ASU's only shot on goal. Nicole Douglas had pair of shots while Enasia Colon and Callie Darst were also credited with a shot attempts.
The Big Picture
Sunday's game started a sequence in which the Sun Devils are playing four of five games against the four Pac-12 teams that qualified for NCAAs last season: vs. Stanford, Thursday at top-ranked UCLA, next Sunday at No. 20 USC and at No. 15 Washington State on Oct. 20. The only non-NCAA qualifier from last season it will face in that stretch will be Utah, a game that will be played in Tempe on Oct. 15.
"We're going to UCLA and USC where basically nobody else is winning," Winkworth said of ASU's next two assignments. "I look at it as an opportunity. If we can get something on the road next week, we're doing something that other teams aren't. You almost have to look at it as a no-lose opportunity because we can either do what everybody else is doing and still be in a reasonable position after five games or we can do even better and be in a fantastic position after five games."