Sun Devil Soccer returns home to face Utah on Friday
THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (6-3-2, 2-3 Pac-12) vs. Utah (6-5-2, 2-3 Pac-12)
WHEN: Friday at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Sun Devil Soccer Stadium • Tempe, Ariz.
WATCH: Pac-12 Mountain
LIVE STATS: Click here
PURCHASE TICKETS: Click here
After going 1-3 in consecutive games against the current top four teams in the Pac-12 standings, the Sun Devil soccer team (6-3-2, 2-3 Pac-12) returns home to face Utah on Friday night. Game time is set for 7 pm at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium.
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 started what most outside the state of California would consider to be the toughest possible four-game stretch in the Pac-12 with a come-from-behind win over Cal (2-1 on Sept. 29). 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 – also a first this season – in a 2-0 setback to current No. 9 Stanford on Oct. 2. The Sun Devils were again held scoreless in a 4-0 loss at top-ranked UCLA on Oct. 6. ASU concluded the difficult string of games with a 2-1 loss at then-No. 8 USC on Sunday. The good news for the Sun Devils is they are coming off their best half of soccer in the loss at USC. Freshman Enasia Colon's goal in the 48th minute cut ASU's two goal deficit in half. Although they were ultimately not able to score the equalizer, the Sun Devils' spirited play on both ends of the field resembled their performance in their last win against Cal on Sept. 29.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• How competitive is the Pac-12? Prior to last week's games in Los Angeles, the Sun Devils were in a three-way tie for fourth place. Fast forward one week and ASU (2-3 in the Pac-12) comes into Friday's game in a four-way tie for seventh place (tied with Washington, Utah and Oregon). UCLA (5-0) leads the way followed by Stanford & USC (tied for second place at 4-1), California in fourth place (3-2) and Washington State (2-2-1) and Colorado (2-2-1) tied for fifth place. A Sun Devil win combined with other results could propel ASU back into the top half of the conference going into next week's contests at the Washington schools.
• ASU's current three-game slide started with a pair of contests – 2-0 vs. Stanford and 4-0 at UCLA – in which it was not able to score after averaging 4.2 goals per game during a five-game winning streak. The common dominator in their first two losses? Trying to score goals against not only the top two teams in the Pac-12 in goals against average, but also two of the best in the nation: UCLA (first in the Pac-12 and eighth in the nation, 0.462 GAA) and Stanford (second in the Pac-12, 42nd in the nation, 0.714 GAA).
• ASU (No. 19) just finished a four-game stretch against teams that are currently among the top 40 in the NCAA RPI: vs. California (No. 31), vs. Stanford (No. 24), at UCLA (No. 1), at USC (No. 36).
• As of Oct. 13, ASU is among the top 20 teams in the nation in assists per game (14th/2.55), 16th in points per game (7.27) and 19th in scoring offense (2.36 goals per game).
• 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 10th in the nation in goals per game (.82), 13th in points per game (1.82), 26th in shots on goal per game (1.91) and 34th 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 Grambling State (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).
• Olivia Coleman, who earned a starting spot on the ASU back line as a freshman before a season-ending injury last season, returned to action at UCLA (Oct. 6).
The Sun Devils won five of the first eight meetings, the most recent of which came in 2014, Utah has had more success in recent encounters with a 3-0-3 record in the last six meetings. Last year's 4-1 win in Tempe, ended Utah's six-game unbeaten streak in the series.
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 82 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.
Also within reach of breaking a program career record is fifth-year midfielder Eva van Deursen (23 career assists/second place), who needs three assists to become ASU's all-time leader. Tullock (first place/25 assists/1998-2001) holds the school record. Van Deursen has already accounted for a single-season, career-high five goals and three assists this season. She scored the game-winning goal with three seconds remaining in ASU's 3-2 win at Colorado (Sept. 23) and followed with another game-winner in the 73rd minute of ASU's 2-1 win over Cal (Sept. 29).
In 2021, van Deursen set the school's single-season assists record with 10 in addition to scoring three goals. At season's end, van Deursen led the Pac-12 and was No. 19 in the nation in assists per game (0.56). She tied her single-game career high in assists (two) twice in ASU's wins at UAB (Aug. 29) and vs. Utah (Oct. 31).
Van Deursen was named to the College Soccer News Women's National Team of the Week for the week ending Sept. 25. She was recognized after scoring a single-game, career-high two goals, including the game-winner with three seconds remaining in ASU's 3-2 win in its Pac-12 opener at Colorado (Sept. 23).