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Sun Devil Soccer opens NCAA Tournament at Portland on Saturday night

Nov 12, 2022

THE GAME: Sun Devil Soccer (9-5-3, 5-5-1 Pac-12) at Portland (11-4-4, 5-4 WCC)
WHEN: Saturday at 7 p.m. PST/8 p.m. MST
WHERE: Merlo Field at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex • Portland, Ore.
WATCH: ESPN+ (subscription required $)
LIVE STATS: Click here
The Sun Devil soccer team will attempt to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons when it travels to the state of Oregon to face No. 8 seed Portland (7 p.m. PST/8 p.m. MST) in a first-round game on Saturday (7 p.m. PST/8 p.m. MST). 
The Sun Devils (9-5-3, 5-5-1 Pac-12) will look to display once again what have been the program's defining qualities in recent years: toughness and resilience.  
On Oct. 30, soccer pundits figured a win over Oregon State would clinch ASU's NCAA spot. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Sun Devils came out on the wrong end of a 3-1 upset. And just like that, ASU's season-finale against in-state rival Arizona, a team ASU had not beaten since 2015, became all but a must-win contest. After falling behind 2-1 in the opening minutes of the second half, Eva van Deursen and Lucy Johnson both scored goals to help the ASU to a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over the Wildcats, a team that also had NCAA aspirations coming into the contest.
The win over Arizona was one of four contests in which the Sun Devils needed to dig deep to find a way to win and is the reason they are still playing the second week of November. ASU opened Pac-12 play with a 2-0 record for the first time since 2007. How did it get there? It won its Pac-12 opener at Colorado 3-2, a win made possible by van Deursen's goal from long distance with three seconds remaining. A week later against perennial Pac-12 power Cal, it was van Deursen once again coming up with the game-winning goal to cap ASU's come-from-behind, 2-1 win over the Bears. Finally, ASU entered its game at Washington State (Oct. 20) on a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) with only goal in 360 minutes of play. In a game that likely served as an eliminator for the losing team as far as postseason aspirations were concerned, the Sun Devils captured a convincing 2-0 victory.
The only prior meeting between the Sun Devils and Pilots came in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, a match won by the Pilots, 3-1 in Portland.
• ASU will be making its ninth all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its second in the last three seasons under sixth-year head coach Graham Winkworth. ASU has gotten as far as the second found five times, most recently in 2020 (played spring of 2021). ASU gave Duke all it wanted as it nearly made its first Sweet 16 before ultimately falling to the Blue Devils in 2OT.
• The Sun Devils finished tied for fifth in the Pac-12. How tough was it to navigate the Conference of Champions in women's soccer this season? With three games remaining in the season, the Pac-12 had 11 of its 12 teams ranked in the top 60 of the NCAA RPI. 
• ASU has been led by returning All-American Nicole Douglas. 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). 
• Douglas is among a quartet of fifth-year players. Forwards Douglas (88 games/88 starts) and Olivia Nguyen (78 games/51 starts, including 50 starts in her last 54 games since start of her junior season) and midfielders Alexia Delgado (81 games/74 starts) and Eva van Deursen (86 games/81 starts). The four players have combined for 28 goals and 17 assists this season – Douglas (14G/3A), van Deursen (7G/5A), Delgado (5G/5A) and Nguyen (2G/4A) – and collectively have amassed 333 games played, including 294 starts.
• On Nov. 8, Douglas was named the Pac-12's Forward of the Year in addition to earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors. 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.
• Both Lucy Johnson (vs. UAB) and Kennedy Mayo (vs. Toledo) have tied the single-game school record for assists (3).