The Sun Devils dropped their fifth consecutive game Thursday night, falling to the No.18 ranked California Golden Bears, 2-0.
It was Cal who was getting the shots early, most notably a shot wide left from well inside the right box by senior forward Arielle Ship on a give and go pass from senior forward Ifeoma Onumonu in the 11th minute.
The Devils got their first quality chance in the 19th minute, when freshman forward Olivia Hernandez dribbled well inside the left side of the box and fired a close-range shot that deflected off junior Cal goalie Emily Boyd.
ASU followed up with another dangerous chance in the 26th minute. A couple of one-touch passes led to a Madison Kmetko shot on goal from halfway into the box that was deflected by Boyd.
The two teams went into the half scoreless, with Cal outshooting ASU 6-3, but the Devils getting the edge 2-1 in shots on goal.
In the second half, the Devils almost scored in the early minutes. In the 47th minute, junior forward Jessica Raybe headed a cross from senior midfielder Lucy Lara off the top left crossbar.
“We got Lucy back on the field today and you could see the difference that it makes,” coach Boyd said. “She creates something out of nothing quite a bit.”
In the 56th minute, ASU got another chance on goal. Junior defender Madison Stark sent in a high cross from the right wing, which senior forward Larissa Staub got a foot on right in front of the net. Staub did not get a strong foot on it though, allowing Emily Boyd to make the save.
Six minutes later, the Devils nearly scored again. Sophomore forward Jaimie Salas got a one on three counter-attack down the right wing. Salas hit sophomore midfielder Adriana Orozco trailing the play, and she found space to shoot well inside the right side of the box but it was saved by Boyd.
“We’ve got a lot of players where the ball just doesn’t seem to want to go in the net right now,” Boyd said. “So they’re doubting themselves, and they’re not finishing with confidence and decisiveness, and things like that, and that’s what’s holding us back a little bit.”
The Golden Bears scored the game’s first goal in the 75th minute. Junior midfielder Kelly Fitzgerald ripped a shot from around thirty yards that bended off the fingers of junior goalie Megan Delaney and under the top right corner.
Then, Cal sealed the deal in the 84th minute, as senior midfielder Emma Fletcher was clipped by Stark in the box, leading to a penalty kick.
“It looked like a penalty to me to be quite honest,” coach Boyd said. “I’m more critical of our team defending and letting that situation occur.”
Arielle Ship buried the shot on a grounder inside the left post, putting Cal up 2-0 for good.
“I thought tonight was one of the times that we’ve played best collectively as a whole,” said junior defender Madison Stark. “We generated a lot of chances, hit crossbars against a really good defense, so that’s promising. We held the ball a lot better, we kept the ball a lot better in the midfield, we outnumbered them and winning first and second balls was a big part of it.”
“I thought we had the three best chances of the game and we didn’t score in them,” coach Boyd said. “And then they got a thirty-yard goal, which, it’d be nice to have some of those occasionally, but we haven’t gotten that fortunate.”
The Devils fall to 6-9-2 overall with the loss, and 1-7-1 in Pac-12 play.
ASU returns to action Sunday at 3:00 p.m. when they host No. 3 Stanford on Senior Day.