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ASU Soccer: Devils fight to bitter end against defending champions

(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)

Arizona State women’s soccer have finished a stretch against the four ranked Pac-12 teams in California with zero wins as they lost to defending champion and No. 6-ranked USC by a score of 2-1.

The game was packed with opportunities all throughout for both teams. However, it was also filled with fouls.

The match ended with 18 fouls, the most in any ASU game since starting conference play, and 4 cards (including 2 red cards) which is the most in any ASU game in the past two seasons.

Head coach Graham Winkworth expressed his disappointment with the referee’s decision to eject ASU defender Angela Boyle and USC defender Dominique Randle, “I don’t believe that either red card for either team was a red card, and when it was 11 versus 11 and a good game of soccer I believe we were in control of the match.”

The Sun Devils seemed to have the right strategy coming into the game, as they looked like the stronger team in the first half, which showed as ASU leading scorer Jemma Purfield scored in the first 10 minutes of the match. USC defenders forced her to keep the ball on her right foot, the gave her enough space to move the ball inside and when she felt like they were finally going to creep in, she booted it into the bottom left corner.

After the second red card (given to Angela Boyle) was handed, the momentum changed completely.

It was the 60th minute when ASU defender Olive Jones misread a ball coming her way and as she tried to head the ball, it went right over her and a USC forward went sprinting with the ball towards goal when a perfectly positioned Angela Boyle tried to stop her and the Trojan forward took a tumble. The foul and the red card was given immediately.

The foul produced a free kick right outside the box which USC forward Tara McKeown buried in the bottom right corner for her fourth goal of the season. Goalkeeper Megan Delaney seemed a little bit out of position, but gave most of the praise to McKeown and her shot although acknowledged that she would’ve liked to at least get a touch on balls coming on the opposite side of the wall.

Delaney started at goalkeeper for the Sun Devils as regular starter, Nikki Panas, was not even in uniform for the match. Panas was substituted out of Thursday’s match against UCLA, and Winkworth has been playing it calmly all throughout the weekend, stating after the match today that Nikki “should be ready for the next (match).”

When asked when she knew she would be starting for Nikki Panas, Delaney said “about an hour before warmups.”

USC took complete control for most of the second half right out of the gate. After the red card, ASU went to a 3-3-3 formation, which USC was able to dissect quickly and easily. The Trojans scored another goal in the 72nd minute from an easy shot in the box by midfielder Amanda Rooney on an assist from forward Hailey Hite.

In the last 10 minutes of the match, however, ASU’s spirits of scoring once more showed as they put up two great opportunities one from Jemma Purfield who struck a ball right outside the box that was barely blocked by USC goalkeeper, Kaylie Collins, and a corner which landed right in front of ASU captain Madison Stark whose shot hit the crossbar.

Just like with their match against UCLA, Winkworth was disappointed with the loss but proud of the way his team fought.

After a short week back home. The Sun Devils will hit the road once more to play Oregon, Colorado, and Utah.

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