(Photo: Jacob Garcia/WCSN)
It was not the game that Arizona State soccer’s head coach Kevin Boyd imagined Friday night. The team’s offensive woes continued in Friday’s 1-0 loss against the Cal Bears. The Sun Devils have only scored three goals in their last four games. Tonight against Cal, it was a result of a lack of strength on the offensive side.
Throughout tonight’s game, ASU’s strikers struggled up top due to the lack of support they received in the midfield. This forced the ASU attackers to abandon their traditional playing style of laying the ball off and then moving to receive it again. In this particular game, the strikers were required to turn on the defenders, and always seemed outnumbered. This caused a massive gap between the midfielders and strikers, and that’s what halted the Sun Devils’ offense tonight. Arizona State looked as if they were set up tactically like they were playing for a tie.
ASU was not awful offensively, however, tallying 12 shots on the game. The team showed a lot more aggressiveness in the first half and looked to be in control despite the one goal they had allowed. They outshot the Bears seven to two in the first half. Arizona State had multiple quality looks, but they just couldn’t finish it off, as things started to go downhill in the second half.
“There’s no reason we should have fluctuation from half to half,” Boyd said.
ASU failed to come out of halftime with an even higher intensity than that of which they brought in the first half. Ultimately, that is what led to Friday’s result being a notch in the loss column for the Sun Devils.
Credit has to be given to the Cal defense, though. The Bears were able to make stops all night long and prevent the Sun Devils from getting good looks. The counter-attacks by the Golden Bears were enough to hold Arizona State to zero goals despite the high shot total.
If the Sun Devils play like they did tonight, they will be no match for the Stanford Cardinal when they are in town Sunday. However, if they can change their game plan, and compete more like the team that tied against UCLA and defeated Texas A&M, then they will be able to compete with any team in the country.