Sun Devil Soccer travels to Los Angeles to face No. 1 UCLA and No. 8 USC
THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (6-1-2, 2-1 Pac-12) at No. 1 UCLA (11-0, 3-0 Pac-12)
WHEN: Thursday at 7 p.m. MST
WHERE: Wallis Annenberg Stadium • Los Angeles
WATCH: Pac-12 Insider
LIVE STATS: Click here
Coming off its first loss of the season after starting the 2022 campaign with an eight-game unbeaten streak, the Sun Devil soccer team (6-1-2, 2-1 Pac-12) will take on Top 10 teams in consecutive games when it travels to Los Angeles to face No. 1 UCLA (Thursday at 7 p.m.) and No. 8 USC (Sunday at 12 p.m.).
ASU's accomplishments over the first six weeks of the season included a five-game winning streak, the program's second 6-0-2 start in three seasons and its first 2-0 start in Pac-12 league play since 2007.
In ASU's Pac-12 opener at Colorado (Sept. 23), Alexia Delgado scored the game's first goal and midfield teammate Eva van Deursen accounted for the other two, including the game-winner with three seconds remaining in ASU's dramatic, 3-2 win.
ASU had to come from behind to get off to its first 2-0 start in league play since 2007. For the second straight game, fifth-year seniors Delgado and van Deursen found the back of the net for the Sun Devils. Van Deursen's goal in the 73rd minute – assisted by Delgado and Lucy Johnson – gave the Sun Devils a lead they would not relinquish.
ASU had to deal with the bitter taste of defeat for the first time this season after it was not able to score a goal for the first time this season in a 2-0 setback to Stanford last Sunday. When asked about the tall tasks his team will be facing this week, head coach Graham Winkworth talked about the upside of facing two Top 10 opponents on the road.
"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."
SERIES NOTES – UCLA LEADS 21-2-2
The Sun Devils captured their second all-time win over UCLA in the spring of 2021 (2-1 in OT win in Los Angeles). Current Sun Devil Olivia Nguyen scored the game-tying goal in the 84th minute to force extra time... Jazmine Wilkinson, Nicole Douglas and Eva van Deursen all scored in last year's contest to help ASU take a 3-1 lead. UCLA would pull back even by the 30th minute. After six goals in a third of playing time, neither team scored until UCLA won it in OT in the 96th minute… ASU's other win over the Bruins, a 1-0, double-overtime decision, came at home in 2000. ASU Hall of Famer Stacey Tullock scored the game-winning goal with 32 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• ASU started the week in a three-way tie for fourth place (Stanford, Washington). The Bruins and Trojans are currently tied for first place with duplicate 3-0 records in league play. Washington State is in third place (2-0-1).
• ASU is currently in the midst of a six-game stretch in which it will be facing five teams currently among the top half of the conference standings: last week vs. Stanford, this week's games at UCLA and USC and then – after it hosts Utah next week (Oct. 14) – back on the road for games at Washington State (Oct. 20) and at Washington (Oct. 23).
• As of Oct. 5, ASU is fourth in the nation in assists per game (3.38), is seventh in points per game (8.56), 12th in scoring offense (2.78 goals per game) and 29th in shots on goal per game (8.11).
• ASU has been led by returning All-American Nicole Douglas. Now the program's all-time career leader in goals (55), points (129) and game-winning goals (17), Douglas is currently fourth in the nation in goals per game (1.00), sixth in points per game (2.22) and 24th in game-winning goals (3).
• After not finding the back of the net in ASU's season opener vs. South Dakota State (Aug. 18), Douglas scored nine goals in ASU's next five games. In ASU's 5-0 win over Toledo (Sept. 14), Douglas, who was named the Pac-12's offensive player of the week on Sept. 19, tied the school's single-game school record for goals (3) for the fourth time in her career. She has now scored multiple goals in a game 12 times in her career.
• Prior to its loss vs. Stanford, ASU scored 21 goals during a five-game winning streak (6 vs. UAB, 5 vs. Grambling State and Toledo, 3 at Colorado and 2 vs. Cal). Douglas (6 goals), van Deursen (5 goals) and Delgado (4 goals) combined for 15 of those 21 goals. By the season's eighth game, Van Deursen and Delgado had already set new single-season career highs in goals.
• Both Lucy Johnson (vs. UAB) and Kennedy Mayo (vs. Toledo) have tied the single-game school record for assists (3). Johnson is currently fourth in the nation in assists per game (0.86).
IMPORTANT TO NOTE...
ASU started the week with the second-highest RPI among Pac-12 teams (No. 19). Five of ASU's next six games are against teams ranked among the Top 40 in the NCAA RPI: at No. 1 UCLA, at No. 24 USC, vs. No. 55 Utah, at No. 23 WSU, at No. 37 Washington, vs. No. 35 Oregon.
STATE OF PLAY
The fact the Sun Devils did not encounter a loss until the season's ninth game is a testament to the team's focus and leadership. Both of ASU's opening weekend contests were affected by weather. ASU's opening game, 1-1 tie vs. 2021 NCAA Tournament participant South Dakota State, started on the night of Aug. 18 and finished on the morning of Aug. 19. Keri Matthews' first career goal tied the game at 1-1 on Aug. 19 after SDSU took the lead the previous night. ASU's next scheduled contest vs. Hawai'i (Aug. 21) was canceled (lightning).
ASU was able to start and finish its first road contest, a 2-1 win at Boise State (Aug. 25) without any unusual stoppages. However, weather issues once again came into play – a 50-minute lightning delay before the start of the second half – in ASU's 1-1 tie at Denver (Aug. 28).
ASU returned home and scored its most goals since the 2021 season opener in a 6-2 win over UAB (Sept. 1). It then went 13 days without playing a game after their home contests vs. Georgia Southern (Sept. 4) & Pepperdine (Sept. 8) were canceled (Covid-19 protocols).
ASU returned from the extended break with a pair of 5-0 wins over Grambling State (Sept. 14) & vs. Toledo (Sept. 18) before opening Pac-12 play with a dramatic, 3-2 win at Colorado (Sept. 23) and a come-from-behind, 2-1 win over Cal.
DONE THIS BEFORE
The tremendous job ASU has done of playing through adversity this season – weather affecting multiple games, pause in play due to Covid, managing in-game momentum changes – should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the program in recent years. During the Covid season of 2020 (played in the spring of 2021), ASU made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014 and was just short of making its first Sweet 16 after falling to Duke in 2OT. Last season, ASU still managed to post a double-digit win total (10) despite having to play 22 different players in the starting lineup due to an unlucky spate of injuries. Including this season's 4-0-2 record, ASU now 28-7-2 in regular season, non-conference games since 2018, including a 14-1-2 the last two seasons.
All eyes have been focused 2021 NCAA scoring leader Nicole Douglas, who earned Third-Team All-America honors in 2021 and was one of 13 players named to the All-Pac-12 First Team. The first Sun Devil to earn All-America honors since 2002, in 2021 Douglas set single-season school records for goals (19/No. 1 in the nation) and points (45). She also led the nation in goals per game (0.95) and points per game (2.25).
On Sept. 1, 2022, Douglas became ASU's all-time leader in career goals after scoring twice in ASU's 6-2 win over UAB. Douglas tied and then and passed Sun Devil Hall of Famer Stacey Tullock (50 goals/1998-2001) vs. UAB. On Sept. 14 vs. Grambling State, Douglas became ASU's new career leader in points (126/54 goals and 18 assists) and game-winning goals (17), passing Tullock in both categories Grambling State (Sept. 14).
Douglas, who has started all 80 games in her career, accounted for a goal or assist in all but five games last season and had a stretch in which she scored at least one goal in seven straight games. She has scored multiple goals in a game 12x in her career and has tied the single-game school record for goals (3) on four occasions – most recently in ASU's 5-0 win over Grambling State (Sept. 14) – and the single-game record for assists (3) once.
On Aug. 18, it was announced Douglas was one of 60 players on the 2022 Hermann Trophy Watch List. Presented annually by the Missouri Athletic Club, the Hermann Trophy is the nation's highest individual honor recognizing the National Player of the Year.