(Photo: Liesl Babicka/WCSN)
Lucy Lara, the redshirt senior, has proudly worn her yellow and white striped captain armband through the tough 2016 season.
A talented midfielder from Sulphur Springs, Texas, Lara’s leadership for Arizona State has been a bright spot in a season plagued with injuries and disappointment.
Junior forwards Ally Moon and Jazmarie Mader, Arizona State’s top offensive players, have been injured for much of the 2016 campaign and it has certainly affected their team when not at full strength. The last game they had both forwards was a win at Washington, the last game ASU won before starting its six game skid.
Their absence has contributed to the Sun Devils’ 6-10-2 overall record and their current six-game losing streak.
One game can’t save the season, but it can certainly help ease its pain.
Arizona State will play the biggest game of its season on Friday when they take on the University of Arizona in the Territorial Cup.
“It’s the Territorial Cup point. That’s the major piece of it,” head coach Kevin Boyd said. “We want to earn a piece for our athletic department and school.”
Despite a tough season for the Sun Devils, coach Boyd is confident in his team and says he doesn’t need to give them a lot of advice before Friday’s game.
“They’ve gone through 18 games,” Boyd said. “I don’t see us being nervous at all for this game, I think they’re just going to step into the right mindset.”
Arizona leads the lifetime Territorial Cup series against ASU at 48-40-1. ASU captured the Cup in 2015 and the women’s soccer team hopes to give the Sun Devils another point in a repeat of the 2015 victory.
In last year’s showdown, Arizona State upset No. 23 Arizona 4-1 courtesy of a hat trick from then senior forward Cali Farquharson.
Without Farquharson, who graduated, this year’s Sun Devil team will look to Lara for leadership ahead of this rivalry game.
A win is hardly all that Lara wishes was possible ahead of her last collegiate soccer game.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Lara said. “Obviously I want to go out and win but at the same time, I never want it to end. I just want this huge soccer game to go until midnight.”
As Lara looked back on her career at Arizona State she got a bit emotional and even had to hold back tears as she explained what she would tell her team prior to the game.
“I love them and that I am going to miss them and that this game will be for them,” Lara said.
Lara and Boyd feel this game won’t be anything different from what they’ve seen this season, but rivalries never go as planned and that’s the beauty of them.
This matchup figures to be your average, down-to-the-wire nail bitter that all sports fans both love and can’t stand at the same time.