In their final road game of the regular season the Sun Devils were defeated soundly by the Oregon Ducks 4-0 Sunday afternoon.
In the absence of top scorer Jazmarie Mader and starting midfielder Aly Moon, the Sun Devils did not look ready for a fight in the early minutes of the game. Oregon was the clear assailant, nearly getting on the board in the first minute then scoring in the 5th minute.
Senior midfielder Maryn Beutler got a pass, found space deep in the right side of the ASU box, then buried a shot to the right of diving freshman goalkeeper Emma Malsy. The goal was one of three strong scoring chances from the Ducks in the first ten minutes, as the Sun Devil defense looked a step behind.
In the 13th minute, it looked like senior forward Larisa Staub had scored as she finished a nice lead pass from middle of the box. However, the pass came late causing Staub to be offsides on what would’ve been the tying goal.
After that, ASU managed to get shots, albeit extremely weak ones, but couldn’t manufacture anything dangerous. They managed to get a couple of free kicks and even a corner, but each time the end result would be a goal kick or the ball getting cleared.
Overall, the Sun Devils struggled to keep possession of the ball or put offensive pressure on Oregon. This was due to the fact that Oregon’s defenders would outnumber ASU’s attackers in their defensive zone, and the Sun Devils struggled to settle and control passes when there was a player open to pass to.
The incoherent play caught up to ASU in the first five minutes of the second half. The Ducks scored goals in rapid succession, starting with sophomore midfielder Bayley Bruner’s goal in the 47th minute. She dribbled from well into the attacking half into the box untouched and ripped a shot past Malsy to double their lead.
The play was a breakdown by the defense, as nobody challenged Bruner as she got into shooting range, leaving her an open shot on goal.
Less than 90 seconds later, the Ducks scored again to break the game open. Sophomore forward Marissa Everett sent a close-range cross from the left that deflected off the hands of Malsy, but the rebound was finished by junior midfielder Abby Morrow on a one-touch kick into the net.
This goal was the most impressive one on Oregon’s part, but ASU’s backline was once again too porous, letting in multiple Oregon attackers close to the net without having enough players back on defense to quiet their presence.
In the 50th minute, the Ducks put any doubt of them winning the game to rest. Emma Malsy took out an Oregon attacker while coming up in the box to cover a pass. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t get any of the ball which resulted in a penalty kick.
Sophomore midfielder Sofia Chambers buried the shot for her first goal of the season, putting the Ducks up 4-0 for good. The play that led to the penalty kick was a timing error on the part of Malsy, which is the type of mistake that has led to the constant switching of goalies throughout the season.
As if four goals weren’t enough, Oregon put up another dangerous scoring chance in the 54th minute. Chambers nearly struck again, as she had an open header in front of the net but hit it high.
For the remaining 35 minutes, Oregon was comfortable playing a bunker defense and allowing ASU to possess the ball for the most part. It continued to be a struggle to score for the Devils, as their highest quality chance came from a Madison Kmetko header on net in the 67th minute.
Although ASU tried to get on the board, Oregon stacked the backline once they took a four-goal lead which made it too challenging for the Devils to get dangerous scoring chances. ASU were shutout for the third consecutive game, extending their losing streak to four.
Although the poor performance from the defense stood out, Boyd may consider going back to junior goalkeeper Megan Delaney when the team returns home Thursday. He has already switched the starting goalie three times this season, and since both players are expected to return next year and all playoff bets are off, the last three games may be a chance for coach Boyd to get end of the year evaluations on his keepers.
Arizona State will return to action Thursday, October 27th when they host No. 10 California.