(Photo: Steve Rodriguez/ASU Athletics)
Sunday’s midday match between 25th-ranked Arizona State and fourth-ranked Stanford was steadily controlled by the Cardinal through their composed defense and explosive attacks. The game came to a close at 2-0 in favor of Stanford.
Stanford goth things started quickly as Stanford forward Chioma Ubogagu was able to find the back of the net from a beautifully struck shot outside of the 18-yard box in the 23rd minute. The play was generated off of a corner kick in Stanford’s favor.
Stanford’s win was then solidified in the 49th minute as Ubogagu again found the back of the net. This second half goal came from a one-on-one opportunity for Stanford’s star senior. She showed her great composure
on the ball and slotted it in behind ASU goalkeeper Chandler Morris.
“The second goal came out of a tactical mistake where we had one [defender] step her offsides and the outside back away from the ball dropping off leaving her on” ASU head coach Kevin Boyd said. “That’s just not good communication or awareness of what a teammate is doing.”
Stanford’s defensive line continued to prove to be one of the best in the nation today as it shut out the Sun Devils and allowed three shots on goal. Shutouts are nothing new for this Stanford team as they shutout their opponents in the first nine games of the season. Stanford’s solid back line shut down Arizona State’s forwards before they even had a chance to get their heads up, slimming down ASU’s offensive ability.
“Credit to Stanford, they were great,” Boyd said. “ I thought they played great to be honest and we weren’t bad but we weren’t good today.”
The domination of the Trees and their ability to possess so well left the Sun Devils exhausted. The fourth-ranked team continuously knocked the ball around in triangles just long enough to draw in Sun Devil players and wear them out before finding open players elsewhere on long balls.
“I think they did a good job with their possession and kind of running us down which made us more tired,” midfielder Tommi Goodman said. “We’re an in shape team so that was a new thing that we had to work through.”
Although the score of this game doesn’t show it, Arizona State’s defensive line, led Morris, played a strong game as well. As the Sun Devils pushed more numbers up looking for the equalizers, they left their own goal more and more exposed. This resulted in multiple late one-on-one opportunities for Stanford forwards. Morris rose to the occasion, throwing her body in front of attackers and keeping the score low.
ASU defender Mckenzie Berryhill controlled the Devil’s back line well throughout the game, clearing long balls when necessary, and playing quick short balls out of the back when time allowed so. Berryhill went down with just thirty seconds left in the game due to a head injury. The potential of losing Berryhill in the future starting line up would do serious damage to the Arizona State team as a whole,but when asked about her state, coach Boyd said she was doing “quite well” and was “cognizant and aware” which was better than they expected.
You can reach Michelle Minahen on Twitter @Meechmina or via email at email@example.com