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ASU soccer hosts San Diego State

September 11, 2009

ASU head coach Kevin Boyd and seniors Carly Kallas and Briana Silvestri preview Friday's game against San Diego State and look back at last week's contests against Old Dominion and Virginia (game preview below).

The Arizona State women's soccer team concludes its current three-game homestand on Friday when it hosts San Diego State at 7 p.m. Currently 3-1-1 on the year the Sun Devils will attempt to equal their best start through six games since the 2006 season when the team began 4-1-1.

Last Week
The ASU soccer team went 1-0-1 during the Sun Devil Desert Classic, defeating Old Dominion 1-0 on Friday and tied eighth-ranked Virginia 1-1 on Sunday. Freshman forward Kiara Williams was responsible for all of ASU's offense for the weekend as she scored the first two goals of her career. After recording her second shutout of the season on Friday, senior goalkeeper Briana Silvestri made six saves against Virginia on Sunday. Williams, senior defender Liz Harkin and sophomore defender Katie Shepard were named to the All-Tournament Team with Harkin earning Defensive MVP honors.

About San Diego State
Just like ASU San Diego State (3-2-1) is coming off a weekend in which it went 1-0-1 following a road trip in which it tied Harvard 1-1 before defeating Dartmouth 1-0. Earlier this season the Aztecs nearly pulled off a colossal upset as they led fourth-ranked Stanford 2-0 on the road after more than 57 minutes of play. However the Cardinal would rally for five goals in the last 32:15 of play to secure the win... Junior midfielder Cat Walker (2 goals, 1 assist) and senior forward Jessica Gordon (1 goal, three assists) are currently tied for the team lead in points (5). Walker has accounted for just over 25 percent (23 of 89) of San Diego State's shots this season after leading the team last season in goals (10), points (23), shots (45) and shots on goal (25).

Series Notes
Friday's game will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Sun Devils and Aztecs. San Diego State holds a slight 3-2-1 advantage after last year's 2-1 win in San Diego. In that contest the Sun Devils got behind 1-0 early before Karin Volpe eventually tied the contest with a goal in the 63rd minute. It appeared the two teams were headed for overtime, however the Aztecs were able to get the go-ahead goal at the 87:33 mark off a corner kick. The Sun Devils were without starting goalkeeper Briana Silvestri, who missed the first three games last season recovering from an injury.

Silvestri Climbing the Charts
With ASU's shutout over Old Dominion last week senior goalkeeper Briana Silvestri took over sole possession of third place on ASU's all-time list for career shutouts (14). It's the latest accomplishment for Silvestri, who last season set the school's single-season record for goals against average for the second consecutive season. Silvestri needs three more shutouts to pass Kim Bingham (16.5 saves, 2003-06) for second place. She would need nine more shutouts to become ASU's all-time leader in shutouts, a distinction currently held by Erin Reinke (1997-00).

Harkin Anchors ASU's Defense
One of the biggest factors in ASU's success during Kevin Boyd's first two seasons as head coach has been the Sun Devils' ability to hold the opposition's attack in check. While goalkeeper Briana Silvestri has risen to the challenge when opponents have gotten within scoring range, senior defender Liz Harkin has made a habit of preventing opposing players from getting clear shots on Silvestri.

"When you have a player like Liz Harkin on the back line your defense automatically becomes one of the strengths of your team," said ASU head coach Kevin Boyd. "She's one of the best if not the best defender in the country. She doesn't get beat and she has added more knowledge and more technique to what she does and she is much more vocal this year."

Last season Harkin earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors and following the season joined the U.S. U-20 Team which captured the gold at the U-20 in World Cup in Chile. Now with international experience under her belt, Boyd feels that Harkin is poised for an outstanding senior year.

Thus far in 2009 Harkin has continued to distinguished herself as one of the nation's best. Earlier this season Harkin was named to both the Lady Vol Classic and Sun Devil Dessert Classic All-Tournament Teams. She was named the Defensive MVP of the Sun Devil Dessert Classic after helping the Sun Devil shutout Old Dominion 1-0 and tie eighth-ranked Virginia 1-1.

Volpe Takes the Lead on Offense
While Liz Harkin has been ASU's anchor in the back, junior Karin Volpe has paced the Sun Devils' attack on the offensive end as she has led the Sun Devils in goals, points and shots each of the last two seasons and currently leads the Sun Devils in goals (2) and points (5) through the first fives games of 2009. Earlier this month Volpe was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week after being the driving force behind the Sun Devils' 3-2 come-from-behind, double-overtime win over the Tennessee Lady Vols in Knoxville. After scoring the tying goal with 13 seconds left in regulation, Volpe would give the Sun Devils the win after scoring again in the 107th minute.

In last week's tie against eighth-ranked Virginia, Volpe contributed an assist on ASU's only goal of the game and moved into a tie for ninth place (37 points) with former Sun Devil Courtney Crane on ASU's all time list for most career points. Volpe is also currently tied for fourth on ASU's career list for game-winning goals (7) and is eighth in career goals (16).
Fab Frosh
One storyline head coach Kevin Boyd was excited about heading into 2009 was the potential of this year's freshman class, which currently has three starters - forward Bianca Doller, defender Sierra Joseph and midfielder Taylor McCarter. A little more than 12 minutes into ASU's season opening win over UC Irvine (Aug. 21), Boyd's excitement was quickly validated as McCarter (assist) and Doller (goal) teamed up for ASU's first goal of the season. Two weeks ago Doller, who is currently tied for second on the team in points (4), came up big in the second half of ASU's win over Tennessee as she assisted on both Volpe's game-tying goal with 13 seconds left and her game winner in double overtime.

Last week it was another freshman who would provide the Sun Devils with offensive heroics as Kiara Williams came off the bench to score both of ASU's goals (and the first two of her career) in ASU's 1-0 win over Old Dominion and 1-1 tie against Virginia. Williams was named to the Sun Devil Classic All-Tournament Team and was recognized by in being named one of its "Primetime Performers of the Week."