(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
Arizona State will play their last two non-conference matches of the season this weekend, facing off against Hawaii on Friday and Weber State on Sunday.
With momentum from their 2-1 victory against Florida Gulf Coast last Sunday, the Sun Devils will be looking to build a winning streak, starting with their matchup against Hawaii’s Rainbow Wahine.
Holding a 2-3-1 record in non-conference action, ASU beat San Diego State in overtime and claimed another win over Florida Gulf Coast. The Devils tied Boston University in a scoreless match, and have lost to Ohio State, Central Florida, and Texas Tech.
Junior transfer Jemma Purfield has proven to be a threat to ASU’s opponents, currently leading her team with 2 goals and 2 assists. Named a 2017 Mac Hermann Candidate and having played at South Alabama under head coach Graham Winkworth for two seasons where she racked up 11 goals in 2016, Purfield already seems to be a strong addition to the Sun Devil offense.
Other players to look out for include freshman goalkeeper Nikki Panas and junior defender Angela Boyle. Both new to the roster, they have each logged over 460 minutes on the field and contributed hugely to the team’s successes.
The Rainbow Wahine are 3-4-0 overall, coming off a 2-0 win over Idaho State last week. This win was their first victory on the road since September 13, 2016, against Air Force.
Hawaii has shown their strengths to be in second half play, where they have scored five of their six goals this season. Junior Raisa Strom-Okimoto received Tournament MVP honors after scoring two goals in Hawaii’s season opener, one goal coming in the 100th minute to to secure an overtime win over Fairfield. Another key player for Hawaii is Sarah Lau, who scored a goal in the 99th minute to beat Utah Valley 2-1.
Weber State, 1-5-0, will be the final team that the Sun Devils square off against before starting up conference matches in the Pac-12. Historically speaking, the Devils have had the upper hand over the Wildcats, with a 2-1-0 record in past matches.
The Wildcats host Boise State on Friday, but come into this weekend with a 3-game losing streak with their latest game being a hard 3-1 loss against North Texas last week. The only victory that Weber State has claimed this season was against North Dakota State on August 25, 2017 at home.
To come away from this weekend with two wins under their belt, the Sun Devils will have to especially focus on starting games with more energy and organization than they have in the past, such as their unfocused performance in the first half against Florida Gulf Coast.
If ASU is able to establish dominance early on and prohibit Hawaii, a strong second-half team, from scoring late in the game, they will have a good shot at Friday’s game swaying in their favor.
As for Weber State’s matchup, the Devils will have to hone in on controlling the ball in their attacking third and racking up goals early on to snuff out any belief by Weber State that they have a chance in the desert.
Fridays game against Hawaii kicks off at 7 p.m and Sunday’s game against Weber State begins at 1 p.m.