The Sun Devils have hit the final stretch, as they will start a three-game home stand to conclude the season Thursday when they welcome in the California Golden Bears.
No. 18 Cal. enters the game 12-3-2 overall and 5-1-2 in Pac-12 play. The Golden Bears are coming off a pair of tough home games, in which they drew Utah then lost to Colorado, both in 2OT.
Prior to the Colorado loss, California had a 9-game unbeaten streak dating back to September 11th. The Golden Bears will look to rebound against an ASU team that has lost 4 matches in a row, and 5 of their last 6.
California comes into the game with one of the top defenses in the Pac-12. Before its loss to Colorado, it had allowed three goals in seven games of Pac-12 play. Currently, the Golden Bears have allowed the second fewest goals-per-game in the Pac-12 with 0.59. Their defense is led by junior goalie Emily Boyd, whose .841 save percentage ranks third in the Pac-12.
On the contrary, ASU’s defense has struggled mightily as of late. They have not given up fewer than two goals in any of their last five contests, and have switched starting goalies twice in that span. Ironically, the last team they gave up less than two goals to was Colorado, the first team to give the Cal defense trouble in Pac-12 competition.
As for the offense, the Golden Bears are known to be aggressive but not necessarily efficient. They average more shots per game than any team in the conference with 18, but they’re only 5th in goals per game at 1.88.
Nevertheless, their attack is led by senior forward Ifeoma Onumonu, whose ten goals are tied for third in the Pac-12, and senior forward Arielle Ship, whose eight goals are tied for sixth.
For ASU, it will be looking to end a three-game scoreless streak, and a two-game one at home. With the return of its leading scorer, junior forward Jazmarie Mader, uncertain, the Devils will have an uphill battle against a stellar Cal defense.
ASU will be looking to keep their hopes of a .500 or better season alive, as they have the chance to play spoiler in Cal’s late season bid to climb up in the Pac-12 standings.
The game will kick off at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 27th in Tempe.