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Sun Devil Soccer’s Nicole Douglas named Pac-12 Forward of the Year

Nov 8, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. – Sun Devil Soccer fifth-year superstar Nicole Douglas was named the Pac-12's Forward of the Year in addition to earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors, the Pac-12 announced on Tuesday. 
Douglas was one of four Sun Devils ­– fellow fifth-year players Alexia Delgado (second-team All-Pac-12) and Eva van Deursen (third-team All-Pac-12) and freshman goalkeeper Pauline Nelles (third-team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Freshman team) – to be recognized by the league's head coaches who voted for the awards. All four players played significant roles in helping the Sun Devils qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

The program's all-time career leader in goals (60), points (140) & game-winning goals (17), Douglas concluded the regular season ranked seventh nationally in goals per game (0.82), 11th in points per game (1.82), 25th in shots on goal per game (1.88) and 29th in game-winning goals (4). 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. After an unlucky stretch in Pac-12 play, Douglas, who twice earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors in 2022, reminded everyone of her one-of-a-kind ability to go off at any time with single-game records of four goals and nine points in ASU's 5-1 win over Oregon (Oct. 27). Douglas, who last year became the first Sun Devil to earn All-America honors since 2002, scored her 14th goal of the season vs. Oregon State (Oct. 30).

Throughout the season, Delgado and van Deursen have teamed to help give the Sun Devils one of the top midfields in the country. By the season's eighth game, both players established new single-season career highs in goals. In ASU's Pac-12 opener at Colorado (Sept. 23), Delgado scored the game's first goal and van Deursen accounted for the other two, including the game-winner with three seconds remaining in ASU's dramatic 3-2 win. In ASU's ensuing game against Cal, Delgado and van Deursen were once again responsible for all of ASU's goals in the Sun Devils' 2-1 win to earn their first 2-0 start in Pac-12 play since 2007. After Cal jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, Delgado tied the game in the in the 22nd minute. In the 73rd minute, Delgado teamed with defender Lucy Johnson to assist on van Deursen's game-winning goal. Delgado (five goals, five assists) and van Deursen (seven goals, five assists) combined for 12 goals and 10 assists. Van Deursen, who last season tied the program's single-season record for assists, concluded the 2022 regular season tied with Hall of Famer Stacey Tullock for most career assists by a Sun Devil.
Nelles was not available week one as she was still competing with the German National Team at the U20 World Cup in Costa Rica. Upon her return, Nelles went on to start ASU's next 16 games and on Sept. 18, earned her first complete game shutout vs. Toledo. She had her second shutout and made 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 Washington State (Oct. 20). Nelles followed her nine-save performance vs. Utah with seven saves against the Cougars. The win over WSU was one of ASU's biggest of the season as it ended an 0-3-1 winless streak. Nelles and Birta Gudlaugsdottir also combined for ASU's first shutout vs. Grambling State (Sept. 14). 
On Monday, the Sun Devils (9-5-3, 5-5-1 Pac-12) learned they would be making their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three seasons under sixth-year head coach Graham Winkworth. ASU opens NCAA Tournament play on Saturday (7 p.m. PST/8 p.m. MST) when it plays at No. 8 seed Portland.