(Photo: Steve Rodriguez/ ASU Athletics)
The clock strikes zero in Palo Alto.
Ninety minutes of nerves are over. Ninety minutes of uneasiness are over. Ninety minutes of hope, suddenly turn into glory.
Arizona State’s 1-0 win over No. 2 Stanford was impressive for a variety of reasons. It was the biggest upset in program history, it ended Stanford’s historic home and conference unbeaten streaks, and it also put head coach Kevin Boyd in the record books.
It was Boyd’s 61st win, making him the winningest coach in the history of Arizona State soccer.
“It feels great, but I wish I would have gotten to that number sooner,” Boyd joked.
Boyd joins Arizona State
When Boyd accepted the Arizona State head coaching job, he had already made his mark as one of the most successful coaches in the Pac-10.
Boyd spent 10 years as the head coach at the University of California, Berkeley. His teams were consistently ranked in the top-25, and he led the Golden Bears to eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
However in March 13, 2007, Boyd resigned as Cal’s head coach. In a press release from the school, Boyd said that he made the decision because he was going to be a father in the fall, and his priorities had changed. He finished his career at Cal with a record of 124-63-20 — the winningest coach in program history.
“I loved it. I got to build a program there,” Boyd said. “It was a great community with a terrific alumni base. I enjoyed it all the way around.”
Seventeen days later, Boyd became the head coach at Arizona State. He said he wanted to live in a community where he could raise a family, and Arizona was the perfect fit for him.
“I was lucky. I actually was contemplating some other options and I was fortunate that the Arizona State job was open,” Boyd said. “My wife and I are both from Idaho, and we both wanted to raise our kid in a similar type of environment. There’s nothing wrong with California, it was just expensive and the area where we wanted to raise our kid we couldn’t afford.”
Seven years after accepting the job, Boyd said that the people that he’s met are what has made it worthwhile.
“It’s always the people that make it special,” Boyd said. “I just love our athletic department. I love the school and what we’re about. I like where we’re going, and I mean that not just from an athletics standpoint, but from an academic stand point as well. Arizona State is really taking off. It’s the people, it’s the players, it’s the alumni that make it all special.”
Boyd also acknowledged that this season’s team is the best team he’s ever assembled at Arizona State.
“Now we have the best team we’ve had in these seven years, none of our recent alumni would dispute that. That’s kind of exciting, it means all of our work is continuing to pay off. I like where we are right now,” Boyd said.
When Boyd was starting out as a coach he said he was heavily influenced by Glenn “Mooch” Myernick, who was a former player for the U.S. Men’s national team, and former coach of the Colorado Rapids.
“I discovered that when I was getting my coaching license he was one of the instructors. When he ran sessions, it was really similar to mine in terms of organization. He would show players the concept, and show them how to translate it into the actual game,” Boyd said.
Boyd describes now his coaching style as intense.
“I’m very demanding. I’m very focused on small details and each player knowing what their role is supposed to be. Once they know their role, I give them the freedom to put their personality into that role,” Boyd said. “When I step onto the field, it’s soccer time and everything else goes away. Off the field, I’m much more laid back. I joke around and have fun with my players.”
Time and time again, players have said that Boyd is never afraid to speak his mind as a coach.
“There’s a couple player’s on the team that have a close relationship with Kevin and I’m definitely one of them,” forward Devin Marshall said. “He can call me out on stuff and I’m not going to take it personally. He’s definitely not quiet. I think he’s more of a motivational coach. He’s direct, and he’s going to say what he thinks.”
Forward Sara Tosti agrees.
“He’s very intense,” Tosti said. “He expects a lot from us and he definitely pushes us. He makes us better.”
It cannot be understated that the odds were against Arizona State as it traveled to Palo Alto to take on Stanford.
The Cardinal had not lost at home in 73-straight games, and had not lost in conference in 44-straight games. To put things in perspective, George W. Bush was our president the last time Stanford dropped a home game.
Meanwhile, the Sun Devils were coming off of a close 2-1 loss to No. 11 Cal on Friday.
“Going into [Sunday’s] game I felt they were beatable, especially if we kept playing like the way we did on Friday,” Boyd said.
The Sun Devils struck first, as Tosti sent a shot from outside the penalty box into the back of the net.
“It was nice being able to see the goalie off of her line, and score the goal,” Tosti said. “I had been working on shooting and getting more shots off. Coach had been telling me to just keep shooting.”
After the team got the lead, Boyd kept on pressing in hopes of getting another goal.
“It wasn’t about holding them, it was about us trying to get another goal. Our halftime talk was about us scoring another goal,” Boyd said. “If we had come out of the half with the intent of holding, and not getting scored on, and preserving that lead entirely, we would have been scored on.”
It wasn’t until the end of the game that the Sun Devils really began to bunker down on defense.
“The only time we decided to preserve and start killing the game was in the last ten minutes,” Boyd said.
Sun Devil goal keeper Chandler Morris, was instrumental in the game as she had seven saves.
“Chandler’s normally just incredibly steady and that’s exactly what she was [Sunday]. She did a good job of handling shots on goal, and not giving away second chances. She’s an excellent shot blocker,” Boyd said.
Stanford was never able to tie it up, and Tosti’s goal ended up being the difference maker.
“It was awesome. To get him the win, to make him the winningest coach in history in the game against Stanford was huge. It wasn’t just a win, it was huge,” Tosti said.
It took everything the Sun Devils had to get the 61st win for Boyd. However, Boyd is already looking forward to win No. 62.
“Now I’m focused on winning more,” Boyd said. “I fully enjoy coaching. I like the relationship with the players and the opportunity to work with them. I enjoy college because I get to see them develop as people and certainly in their game. I’m a huge fan of Arizona State University. I love being a Sun Devil, and being part of the program.”