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ASU Soccer: ASU falls late to No. 6 USC

(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)

It’s not every day that a NCAA women’s soccer game is played where both teams only have 10 players on the field. That was the case Sunday afternoon at the Arizona State soccer game against No. 6 University of Southern California.

However, even with players missing from both teams, allowing an abundance amount of space on the pitch, ASU fell short with a 2-1 loss after leading the game for 51 minutes.

When the first whistle blew, it was evident that this was a new Sun Devil team. They came out poised and collected ready to give USC, last year’s NCAA DI national champions, a run for their money.

Another change for the Sun Devil squad was goalkeeper redshirt senior Megan Delaney, who played in the place of freshman Nikki Panas, who was not dressed for the game.

“I think the coaches do a very good job of keeping every single one of the players prepared through practice,” said Delaney. “We practice as we would play, so I felt prepared as I could be for this game.”

Delaney was aware that she was going to start in the match only an hour before game time.

For the first nine minutes, the Sun Devils worked hard and pressed the USC backline. ASU even earned themselves a corner kick at the three-minute mark. Jemma Purfield played her usual left outside back position and made her offensive runs into the defensive zone of USC.

This time two USC players gave Purfield a large amount of room for her to dribble while forcing her to her right foot. Purfield, a left dominated player, fired a shot from just inside the 18-yard box with her right foot.

The ball went near post past USC goalkeeper Kaylie Collins, giving the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead against the Trojans.

“I knew that they weren’t allowing me on my left foot, so they obviously figured out I was left footed, so they were forcing me inside and space opened up,” said Purfield “I am naturally right footed so I can still hit with my right foot now and again and luckily it went in.”

This was Purfield’s fourth goal of the season, the first since ASU opened their Pac-12 conference play against Oregon State.

Arguably, this was the best soccer the Sun Devils have played all season. Their defense was solid, not allowing USC the time or space to make a play. On the other hand, ASU’s offensive skill rose while pressing USC to make mistakes in front of Collins.

During the final minute of play in the first half, the game’s first red card was distributed.

For almost half the game, USC played down a player, after center back Dominique Randle received a questionable red card outside the 18-yard box.

The Sun Devil free kick coming from that red card was uneventful, and the score remained 1-0 going into halftime.

ASU had a man advantage for nearly 15 minutes into the second half before ASU’s own center back Angela Boyle received a red card in the identical spot as the first one.

“I thought there were some key decisions, I don’t believe, my first impression, is I don’t believe that either red card for either team was a red card,” ASU head coach Graham Winkworth said. “When it was 11 versus 11 and a good game of soccer I believe, we were in control of the match, but some decisions were made to eject two players.”

USC took advantage of the free kick they received after Boyle’s exit from her red card.

Tara McKeown scored her fourth goal of the season for the Trojans off the free kick tying the game up at one a piece.

The Sun Devils and Trojans finished the game off with each ten players on the pitch. This change didn’t stop USC, in fact, they had the most offensive play in the whole game after Boyle’s red card.

A quick twelve minutes later USC substitute Amanda Rooney was given the ball by Hailey Hite right in front of the net for an opportunity to put the Trojans up. Rooney placed the ball by Delaney scoring her first goal of the season.

The Trojans lead 2-1 the rest of the game and pulled out the win after being dominated by the Sun Devils, who had 17 shots the entire game.

“We need to go back to the drawing board. I think we played extremely well today, you have to take the positives,” said Winkworth. “If you look at the first half performance, in particular, until we had to completely change things after the ejection, I thought we were in control of the match, it’s really more of the same.”

Pac-12 conference play is not over for ASU as they travel to Oregon this weekend to take on Oregon and Oregon State. Their first game in Friday night in Eugene against the University of Oregon at 4 p.m.

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