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ASU soccer opens regular season vs. UC Irvine


August 21, 2009

After two weeks of preseason training, the Arizona State women's soccer team kicks off its 14th season of play tonight (7 p.m.) when it hosts UC Irvine at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe.

The Sun Devils enter this season with plenty of optimism under third-year head coach Kevin Boyd. ASU has been on the doorstep of the postseason in each of Boyd's first two seasons guiding the squad, including last season when the team managed an 8-8-4 record despite six season ending injuries.

Given what ASU was able to accomplish last season without the luxury of a healthy team it is definitely easy to see why Boyd feels good about the potential of this year's group. The Sun Devils return several key players including their leading scorer (junior forward Karin Volpe), assist leader (junior midfielder Jill Shoquist), the school's single-season school record holder for GAA (senior goalkeeper Briana Silvestri), one of the top defenders in country (senior Liz Harkin) and a pair of players who have been named to the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team the last two seasons (junior midfielder Alexandra Elston in 2007 and sophomore defender Katie Shepard in 2008). Add to that several other key returning contributors in addition to a talented group of freshman that created a buzz during preseason training and it all adds up to a potentially exciting season of soccer in Tempe.

"We are a better team this year," Boyd said. "We are better on paper in terms of talent and depth and we are faster and more athletic, all very good things to help you. The unknowns are character and youth. We have 28 players on the squad right now and 21 are freshmen or sophomores and so with that comes a great amount of unknown."

One thing Boyd is certain of is that when Friday night arrives the team will be ready to get things going.

"Everybody loves to start a season," said Boyd. "No one likes preseason because it goes a long time, you are training hard and then you have the coach who is on top of you the whole time. As soon as you can get out of preseason and into games is when the fun time starts and that is what you look forward to."

Click below for further comments from Boyd and members of the 2009 Sun Devil soccer team.