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ASU Soccer: Sun Devils muster a draw in Pac-12 home opener

(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)

The Arizona State women’s soccer team (5-3-2) drew the Utah Utes (6-2-2) 1-1 in 2OT at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium Thursday night.

In the first half, Utah came swinging right out of the gate, just missing a cross opportunity in the 2nd minute. For ASU though, junior defender Madison Stark made a couple of nice plays in the defensive zone, both in the first ten minutes, to prevent any additional strong scoring chances by Utah.

As the first half went on, the Sun Devils got a number of good looks from crosses, including a header from junior forward Jazmarie Mader that went just high in the 27th minute.

However, for every decent look the Sun Devils got from a shot or cross, there were giveaways on poor long balls from midfield and sloppy passing.

“It’s still a learning process,” said head coach Kevin Boyd. “We’re young, we got players that are going in that are really excited and their brain turns off a little because they’re so excited and they got to calm their head down and be able to play the game we want to play.”

Additionally, ASU looked tired towards the end of the first half. The team had four fouls called on them in the last twelve minutes before the break.

“When we made subs at the end of the first half, our players that went in just as a group collectively did not keep the ball at all,” coach Boyd said. “And from that remaining fourteen fifteen minutes of the first half, we didn’t put together a pass string beyond two…and that’s not who we are at all.”

The sloppiness caught up to them, as junior defender Taylor Coon got called for a foul and yellow card for a jersey pull around midfield. This resulted in a Utah free kick, which was headed in by senior midfielder Katie Rogers with just over a minute to go in the half for the game’s first goal.

“We’re committing too many dumb fouls,” coach Boyd said. “It felt like the fifth or sixth foul that we had committed in a space that they can serve it into our box…and it’s hard to keep defending like that.”

In the second half, ASU came out with some solid offensive pressure, but failed to manufacture any strong scoring chances. On the flip side, ASU defended Utah well in the beginning of the second half, also preventing the Utes from getting dangerous shots on goal.

Senior defender Mckenzie Grossman was the focal point of the defense. Throughout the game, she constantly broke up passes and ran down long balls to clear them out of the ASU defensive zone.

However, for the majority of the second half, the Sun Devils failed to get any strong shots on goal. They had difficulty stringing together a good set of passes to set up high percentage chances, and none of their crosses produced particularly dangerous shots on net either.

“Too many of our shots are coming from distance and they’re not even remotely dangerous,” coach Boyd said. “You’re not going to score very many that don’t go on goal.”

Jazmarie Mader broke the dry spell for ASU. She settled a chip pass from freshman forward Christina Edwards right in front of the goalie, then did a 360-degree spin and shoot to even the score in the 81st minute. The goal came on the tail end of a sequence of multiple quick passes that set up the high quality shot for Mader.

The goal energized the Sun Devils, as they were in the attacking zone for most of the remaining nine minutes of regulation.

“Anytime somebody scores a goal it’s exciting,” Mader said. “Everybody gets this fire inside of them, and as soon as someone scores a goal when you’re down one it’s like a whole new game.”

The Utah defense held the fort in the waning minutes of regulation to force extra time.

In the two overtime periods, it was a game of pinball soccer for the majority of the time. Both teams seemed low on stamina, and neither side could generate a strong offensive foray.

The high point for Utah came in the 8th-9th minutes of the first overtime, as they put offensive pressure on the ASU defense deep in the zone. They managed a solid shot on goal, but the Sun Devil defense did enough to keep them from scoring the game winner.

As for Arizona State, senior forward Larisa Staub’s shot that ricocheted off the top right corner post was as close as it got to winning the game. It was by far the best look the Sun Devils had gotten in the overtime period, and with under four minutes left, it was all but certain the game would end in a draw after that.

“I hit a knuckleball so it was wobbling and I was like ‘oh my gosh it’s going in’ and then at the last second it went up a bit and hit the post,” Staub said about her shot.

As far as the road ahead, coach Boyd said, “I want better decisions on the attack. I want us to hold the ball better on the attack. I want us to get into more dangerous places to get our shots.”

Arizona State returns to action Sunday, October 3rd at 3:00 pm when they host the University of Colorado-Boulder Buffaloes.

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