(Photo: James Powel/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5-2, 1-3-1) return home Saturday to host the No. 6 University of Southern California Trojans (10-3-0, 4-1-0).
USC is the highest ranked opponent the Sun Devils have faced this season, but ASU is not backing down to the challenge.
“Obviously USC has proven day in and day out that they’re a top team,” said head coach Kevin Boyd. “From our end we’re just planning to go in just like every other game and go in and try to get a win.”
USC is coming off a 1-0 loss to California, which ended a 10-game win streak that dates back to August 28.
On the other hand, ASU is still looking for its first Pac-12 win at home. The Sun Devils tied Utah and lost to Colorado in their first two tries.
“We can do this,” said junior defender Madison Stark. “I have a lot of old friends and old teammates on USC so we’re ready to do this.”
The biggest problem thus far for ASU has been its inability to play a strong 90 minutes of soccer.
“We’ve been pretty good generally in second halves this year, we’ve turned out to be a second half team,” coach Boyd said. “We’re just trying to fit the whole picture together and have a fully complete game. I think we’ve had a couple of those but not enough.”
Additionally, the goalkeeper controversy has resurfaced as a result of Sunday’s game. Junior goalkeeper Megan Delaney started at Washington State, her first game action since being pulled at halftime September 4 against Denver.
“Right now, Megan’s the one set up to go,” coach Boyd said. “[Freshman goalie Emma Malsy and Megan Delaney] have been neck and neck the whole time, we thought there was a couple errors made in the Washington game and it led us to want to make a change.”
Malsy started in seven consecutive games after replacing Delaney halfway through the Denver game. She gave up nine goals in those contests and made 27 saves, and the team went 3-4-1 with her as a starter.
“Megan’s been ready and jumping at the bit and it was her turn,” coach Boyd said. “We’re not looking forward to any time that we have to change goalkeepers…that’s not an ideal situation.”
The Sun Devils know they have their hands full Saturday in what will be a crucial game in determining their fate this season.
“USC’s a really tough team,” Stark said. “They’re very technical, fast, very offensively minded but they also have a really strong defense so overall they’re a really strong team. But we’re really excited and we’re excited for the matchup this weekend.”
The game will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday and can be streamed online through Pac-12 digital via ASU’s live stream.