(Photo: Blake Benard/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils will travel to Tucson Friday for one last showdown this season, against the No. 23 University of Arizona.
As is stands right now, even if the Sun Devils were to win against Arizona, their chances of making the NCAA tournament are minuscule.
“I told the team maybe there’s a one percent (chance) but we would have to have a massive jump in the RPI to even put us in a category to be close,” head coach Kevin Boyd said. “Stranger things have been known to happen, but we’re just focusing on the [Arizona] game itself.”
Arizona State faced a series of injuries throughout the season that put them in this position. Leading scorer Cali Farquharson was out for 5.5 games and senior midfielder Tommi Goodman is out for the season due to a broken leg. The injury bug contributed to the Sun Devils losing seven games in a row.
Once the streak was broken, the Sun Devils still had a slight chance to make playoffs if they could win out the rest of their season, but a loss against Utah in overtime last week did all but close the door on those dreams.
Arizona on the other hand, has shown tremendous form this season. The Wildcats are 12-4-2 on the season, and currently sit third in the Pac-12 standings.
Players to watch:
The biggest player to look for on the Sun Devils side is unsurprisingly Farquharson. The senior will be fighting for more than just a win over a rival. This will likely be Farquharson’s last game as a Sun Devil, and she has half a season’s worth of unplayed frustration to satisfy.
Farquharson has also never finished a season with less than 10 goals. She currently sits at seven on the season, just one hat trick shy of her minimum.
The Sun devils will also be bringing firepower with sophomore forward Jessica Raybe, who has found her form in the recent weeks.
Raybe became a regular presence on the field after the injuries forced Boyd to look to his bench to fill a captain’s sized hole. Raybe rose to the occasion and has scored four goals in her last six games.
On Arizona’s side watch out for sophomore attacker Gabi Stoian and junior midfielder Jaden DeGracie who hole the second and third place spots in the school’s assist record with 18 and 15 goals respectively.
The pair will be key to an Arizona offense that has seen a great ability to move the ball around and finish off of set pieces.
Last time the two teams met, then-freshman forward Aly Moon scored the lone goal of the game to give the Sun Devils the win. This time, the Wildcats will be the heavy favorites to win the bragging rights.
Arizona is in one of the best forms they have shown in a while. Their scoring depth chart goes 15 deep for a combined 32 goals on the season so far.
Nevertheless, this is also one of the most talented classes in Arizona State’s program history.
The beginning of the year showcased what a fully healthy squad could have looked like this season, and all 10 seniors will have that bitter thought in mind as they take the field for the last time Friday night.
The game will likely come down to a last minute winner, or an unlucky bounce in the box to give the opponent the upper hand.
Either way, the match promises to be tightly fought for.
Arizona – 2, ASU-1