Sun Devil Soccer goes for weekend sweep on Sunday at UW
THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (7-3-3, 3-3-1 Pac-12) at Washington (8-4-3, 2-4-1 Pac-12)
WHEN: Sunday at 12 p.m.
WHERE: Husky Soccer Stadium • Seattle, Wash.
WATCH: Washington Live Stream
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil soccer team (7-3-3, 3-3-1 Pac-12) concludes its stretch of four of five games on the road on when it plays at Washington (8-4-3, 2-4-1) on Sunday (12 pm). After Sunday's game, the Sun Devils will play their final three games of the regular season at home: vs. Oregon (Oct. 27), vs. Oregon State (Oct. 30) and vs. Arizona (Nov. 4).
The Sun Devils are coming off a 2-0 win at Washington State on Thursday night. A pair of Arizona natives, fifth-year senior Olivia Nguyen (sixth game-winning goal of her career) and New Mexico State transfer Hannah Leitner (first goal as a Sun Devil) provided all the scoring, while freshman goalkeeper Pauline Nelles, who made a career-high nine saves in ASU's scoreless tie vs. Utah (Oct. 14), added seven more saves vs. Washington State to post her second consecutive shutout.
SERIES NOTES VS UW
Washington's 1-0 win in 2018 ended a four-game ASU winning streak… The two teams have played to a pair of ties the last two seasons: 1-1 in Tempe in 2020 (played in spring of 2021) and 2-2 last season in Seattle. Nicole Douglas scored twice in the first half of last-season's game before the Huskies bounced back with a pair of scores in the second half to force the eventual tie... In the last 13 matches going back to 2009, there have been four ties. The margin of victory in the games with a winner was no more than one goal and only once (ASU's 3-2 2OT win in 2015) did a team score more than two goals.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• The Sun Devils are currently in sole possession of fifth place in the Pac-12. UCLA (14-1, 6-1 Pac-12) and Stanford (13-2-1, 6-1) are tied for first. Similar to ASU's experience last week vs. Utah on Oct. 14, USC (9-2-2, 5-1-1) – now in third place – found out just how difficult it is to score against Utah as it played the Utes to a scoreless tie on Thursday. Cal (9-4-3, 4-3) has gone 4-1 since losing to ASU on Sept. 29 and is now in fourth place. The difference in total number of wins between fourth place (4) and eighth place (2 - three-way tie) is two.
• In the all-important NCAA RPI, at the start of the week the Sun Devils (No. 18) were one of eight Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 50. They were joined by UCLA (No. 2), Stanford (No. 11), USC (No. 26), Cal (No. 36), Washington State (No. 40), Oregon (No. 41) and Washington (No. 49).
• ASU's two goals in its win at Washington State on Oct. 20 represented the first time ASU had scored multiple goals since its 2-1, come-from-behind win vs. Cal on Sept. 29. In the four games prior to the win over WSU, ASU scored one goal while going 0-3-1 after ASU averaging 4.2 goals per game during a five-game winning streak. The common dominator in the 0-3-1 stretch? Trying to score goals against the top four teams in the Pac-12 in goals against average: UCLA (first in the Pac-12 and fifth in the nation), Stanford (second in the Pac-12, 16th in the nation), USC (third in the Pac-12) and Utah (fourth in the Pac-12).
• As of Oct. 20, ASU is among the top 40 teams in the nation in assists per game (2.31/19th), points per game (6.62/26th) and scoring (2.15 goals per game/36th).
• ASU has been led by returning All-American Nicole Douglas. Now the program's all-time career leader in goals (55), points (129) & game-winning goals (17), Douglas is currently 18th in the nation in goals per game (0.69), 26th in shots on goal per game (1.92) and 28th in points per game (1.54).
• 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.
• Eva van Deursen (24 career assists) needs one assist to tie ASU Hall of Famer Stacy Tullock's school record of 25. Lucy Johnson, who has missed three games this season, currently leads ASU in assists in 2022 (7) and is three assists away from tying van Deursen's single-season record of 10 set last season.
• 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).
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-season momentum – 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 84 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 (24 career assists/second place), who needs two 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 four assists this season. She scored two goals, including 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). Van Deursen was named to the College Soccer News Women's National Team of the Week for the week ending Sept. 25.
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).
HOW'S THIS FOR EXPERIENCE?
ASU returns a quartet of fifth-year players in the form of forwards Nicole Douglas (84 games/84 starts) and Olivia Nguyen (74 games/48 starts, including 47 starts in her last 50 games since start of her junior season) and midfielders Alexia Delgado (77 games/70 starts) and Eva van Deursen (82 games/77 starts). The four players have 19 goals and 10 assists – Douglas (9G/2A), van Deursen (5G/3A), Delgado (4G/3A) and Nguyen (1G/2A) and collectively have amassed 317 games played, including 279 starts.
The Sun Devils also return two other players with more than 60 games of experience: senior defender Lieske Carleer (64 games/63 starts) and senior defender/midfielder Callie Darst (60 starts in 67 career games). Although this is her first season with ASU, New Mexico State transfer Hannah Leitner has played in 58 games (42 starts).
Juniors Lucy Johnson (started seven of eight games she's played in 2022) and Jazmine Wilkinson (starts in seven of 12 games she has played in 2022), have also provided the team with important contributions this season. Johnson, who tied the single-game school record for assists (3) vs. UAB on Sept. 1, currently has a team-high seven assists and Wilkinson has accounted for one goal and one assist.
Sophomore forwards Keri Matthews and Kennedy Mayo have provided the opposition with additional Sun Devil scoring options to be aware of on its scouting reports. Matthews has scored a pair of goals to go with one assist. Mayo proved how dangerous she can be, accounting for a goal and a single-game, school record-tying three assists in ASU's 5-0 win vs. Toledo (Sept. 18). On the defensive end, Lauren Kirberg has provided the Sun Devils with several solid efforts on what has become a younger back line as the season has progressed.
The Sun Devils welcomed two transfers to the program, Gabi Rennie and Hannah Leitner. Rennie, who had an assist in her Sun Devil debut vs. South Dakota State, joined the Sun Devils after starting her career at Indiana University. She also spent time with the New Zealand national team and scored a goal for them in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In her three seasons playing for New Mexico State, Leitner became the program's all-time career assists leader (12) and tied for eighth in career goals (nine). Leitner scored her first goal as a Sun Devil in ASU's 2-0 win at Washington State (Oct. 20)
MORE NEW FACES
The Sun Devils also welcomed nine freshmen to Tempe: goalkeepers Pauline Nelles and Kayla Letcher; defenders Andrea Kraetzer, Ava Wright, Meighan Farrell and Mya Wheeler; midfielder Brianna Nunley and a pair of newcomers who can play at multiple positions: Enasia Colon (midfield/forward) and Mia Lanni (midfield/forward).
The class has already made several contributions. Nelles was not available week one as she was still competing with the German National Team at the U20 World Cup in Costa Rica. She has since started the last 12 games and on Sept. 18 earned her first complete game shutout vs. Toledo. She had her second complete game shutout while making a career-high nine saves in ASU's 0-0 tie vs. Utah (Oct. 14) and added a third in ASU's 2-0 win at WSU (Oct. 20). Nelles and Birta Gudlaugsdottir also combined for ASU's first shutout vs. Grambling State (Sept. 14). Freshman field players who have earned consistent playing time include Kraetzer (13 games/11 starts), Colon (13 games/5 starts – two goals, four assists), Farrell (12 games/5 starts/1 assist), Wright (11 games/10 starts – 1 goal, 1 assist). Nunley made her first appearance at UCLA (Oct. 6) after missing the first 10 games due to injury.
HOW WE GOT HERE
The Sun Devil soccer team'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. 7 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 Oct. 9. Heading into its game vs. Utah (Oct. 14), ASU was coming off its 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. The Against the Utes, ASU had a pair of excellent scoring opportunities, but was not able to get on the board. The Sun Devils were outshot 13-4 in the second half but kept the Utes from scoring with phenomenal back-line play. The 61st and 71st minute saw heroic efforts from ASU defenders to keep the match scoreless. On both occasions, the last remaining Sun Devil defenders were tasked with making timely slides to shake the ball away from the attacker heading for a one-on-one with their goalkeeper. Freshman goalkeeper Pauline Nelles made a career-high nine saves to secure her second career clean sheet. Playing a big role in helping Nelles keep Utah off the scoreboard were senior Lieske Carleer, sophomore Lauren Kirberg and a trio of freshmen: Andrea Kraetzer, Meighan Farrell and Ava Wright.
A pair of Arizona natives, fifth-year senior Olivia Nguyen (sixth game-winning goal of her career) and New Mexico State transfer Hannah Leitner (first goal as a Sun Devil) provided all the scoring in ASU's 2-0 win at WSU (Oct. 20) to snap ASU's four-game winless streak. Nelles, added seven more saves vs. Washington State to post her second consecutive shutout.
GREAT CULTURE EQUALS GREAT SUCCESS
The fact the ASU did not encounter a loss until the season's ninth game is a testament to the team's focus and leadership. Both of its 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.
Again it proved its mettle, ending a four-game winless streak with a 2-0 win at Washington State (Oct. 20).
SMART SUN DEVILS
Sun Devil Soccer was well represented on the 2021 Pac-12 Fall Academic Honor Roll as 19 Sun Devils earned recognition from the conference. In addition, Lieske Carleer and Eva van Deursen were both named to the 2021 CoSIDA Academic All-District® Women's Soccer Team.
LOOKING BACK AT 2021
• After its 8-1 record in non-conference play, ASU earned a No. 15 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25, its highest in program history.
• Due to injuries, ASU had 22 different players in the starting lineup. Nicole Douglas and Callie Darst were the only two players who started all 20 games.
• After winning all five of its one-goal games in non-conference play, ASU was not as fortunate in Pac-12 games as it went 1-6 in such games and also had a pair of ties.
• After losing two-year starter Giulia Cascapera in fall camp, the goalkeeper duties were split between freshmen Birta Gudlaugsdottir and Julia Ortega.
• Douglas (19 goals) and fellow striker Olivia Nguyen (seven goals) combined for 26 of ASU's 42 goals. Although Douglas and Nguyen accounted for the majority of the goals, ASU had 10 different players find the back of the net in 2021.