(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
The Pac-12 conference is one of the most competitive conferences in the country. For freshmen to get any playing time is usually rare, getting a start in a game is even more rare. However, that wasn’t the case in today’s game against Ohio State for Arizona native Olive Jones.
Jones started the game with a few chances for the Sun Devils and was partnered with another freshman forward, Amanda Jones.
With 15 minutes left in the first half, Ohio State gave up a corner kick to ASU. Transfer Jemma Purfield took the left footed corner, dropping the ball right into the box, where it found the head of Jones.
Jones finished the ball into the back of the net with her head. Just like she had an uncountable amount of times before. But, this time it was different, it was her first collegiate goal in her career.
“It’s just a thrill, I didn’t even know what was happening,” said the freshman from Phoenix.
“It’s always nice for a striker to get the first one and get off the mark,” first year head coach Graham Winkworth told the media after the game. “I am proud for her, hopefully that will settle her nerves in front of goal. But, she’s been banging them away during preseason, so I knew it wasn’t going to take long for her to score her first goal in her career.”
Jones only tied up the game 1-1 for the Sun Devils, however, as seven minutes into the first half, Ohio State senior Sammy Edwards bent one into the back of the net for the Buckeyes, a goal that put them up 1-0 at the time.
In the first half, ASU played with noticeable nervousness, as this was their first game of the season in a season under a new head coach.
“We changed things up technically half way through the first half and we started the second half in that so we were already a bit more settled,” mentioned Winkworth. “I think there was a lot of nerves going in.”
The Devils appeared to be a completely different team after Winkworth’s changes were implemented. Passes settled down, players improved on not rushing the play and congestion in the midfield decreased.
Coach Winkworth was not afraid to play freshmen Jessica Hale at defense and also played transfer Angela Boyle at center back position next to senior captain Madison Stark. Brazilian Lara Barbieri spent a significant amount of time in the midfield against Ohio State and showed off her technical skills by beating Ohio State players.
“I thought a lot of people gave us good minutes from the bench, so I am proud of that,” commented Winkworth.
Towards the end of the game, Ohio State saw multiple corner kicks opportunities, but senior goalkeeper Megan Delaney kept her team at a 1-1 tie with the Buckeyes.
After 90 minutes, the score remained locked up at one and the teams went into overtime in the first game of the season. For most of the overtime period, the game appeared destined to end in a tie, but Ohio State’s Meghan Kammerdein had a different idea. With only a few minutes remaining, the sophomore forward beat ASU’s last defender and popped the ball in past Delaney to give send Buckeyes home victorious.
Throughout the game, the Devils had several chances where the ball came close to finishing the net, but ended up hitting the crossbar or just barely missing the net.
“I can’t fault the girls from their effort, they worked extremely hard,” said Winkworth. “We would just like that little bit of quality in the final third and we need to find a way of fixing that.”
After a heartbreaking loss, the Sun Devils and coach Winkworth head hungry for a win into their next match against Beijing Normal University at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe this Sunday, August 20. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m..