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Soccer returns home to face Oregon schools

October 07, 2011

For the first time in nearly a month the Arizona State women’s soccer team (5-6, 1-2 Pac-12) will be playing at home when it hosts No. 19 Oregon State (Friday at 7 p.m.) and Oregon (Sunday at 1 p.m.).

ASU has played its last five matches on the road (2-3 record in those games). Four of those five contests were decided by a single goal (1-0 win vs. Pacific, 1-0 loss at Cal, 2-1 loss at Utah, 1-0 win at Colorado).

The Sun Devils came through with a split last weekend, losing at Utah 2-1 on Friday before rebounding on Sunday to defeat Colorado 1-0 to get their first Pac-12 win of the season.

Against Utah, the Sun Devils struck first in the 55th minute when Miah Mollay scored her first goal of the season. The goal was set up by Courtney Tinnin, who headed the ball back to Mollay giving her a clear shot at the net. Utah would tie the game a little more than five minutes later and then would score the game winner off a corner kick in the 89th minute.

Two days later at Colorado, Nicki Stone’s penalty kick in the 50th minute proved to be the game winner as the Sun Devils came through with a hard-fought 1-0 win. ASU was able to hold on for the victory despite playing the last 20-plus minutes of the game shorthanded after sophomore defender Jasmine Roth was given a red card in the 70th minute. Also, the Sun Devils found themselves on the wrong end of two important statistical categories as Colorado had nearly twice as many shots as the Sun Devils (15-8) and had a 12-0 advantage in corner kicks. However none of that would matter in the end as the Sun Devils would gain the most important advantage - on the scoreboard - in the 50th minute when Stone was fouled in the penalty box. Moments later the Sun Devils would take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when Stone knocked the penalty kick home. It was the second goal of the season (and the second game-winning goal) for Stone who returned to game action two days earlier after missing the previous seven games because of injury.

Coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, the Sun Devils are looking to make it three NCAA bids in a row for the first time in school history. In order to do that ASU will have to overcome the challenge of losing its top two scorers from last season (and two of the top 10 scorers in school history) – Karin Volpe (No. 6 all time – 65 points, 28 goals) and Alexandra Elston (No. 9 all time – 48 points, 18 goals) – to graduation.

One player who figured to help the Sun Devils fill the aforementioned offensive void is sophomore forward Devin Marshall, who was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team last season after finishing third on the team in scoring (10 points) and tied for first in assists (4). Marshall scored in ASU’s season opening win over Northern Arizona (Aug. 19), but sustained an ankle injury two weeks later while assisting on teammate Alexandra Doller’s goal in the first half of ASU’s 3-1 loss at Old Dominion (Sept. 4). Marshall has missed ASU’s last eight contests and her availability is currently being evaluated on a week-to-week basis.  

Other returners who have shown the ability to find the back of the net on multiple occasions include redshirt junior forward Sierra Cook (8 career goals - 3 in 2011) and redshirt junior Courtney Tinnin (4 career goals). Tinnin, who led ASU in assists in 2009 with six, did not play in 2010 due to a knee injury sustained in the spring of 2010. After missing the first eight games of this season rehabbing the injury, Tinnin made her 2011 debut in ASU’s Pac-12 opener at Cal (Sept. 23). It has not taken long for her to make an impact as she recorded her first assist of the season in last week’s game at Utah (Sept. 30).

Doller was ASU’s top offensive performer (her five goals still lead the team) through the first eight games before suffering an injury during the week of preparations leading up to ASU’s game at Cal.

Another player who was expected to have an impact on the offensive end is redshirt sophomore Nicki Stone, who has spent the better part of the last two seasons recovering from knee injuries. Stone began the 2011 season as a starter on ASU’s front line and scored the game-winning goal in ASU’s win over South Carolina on Aug. 28. However Stone would miss ASU’s next seven games because of injury. She returned to action last weekend and quickly proved to be a difference maker as she drew (and made) a penalty kick in ASU’s 1-0 win at Colorado (Oct. 2).

The ASU midfield figures to be a strength of the team as it returns 2010 All-Pac-10 Second-Team performer Taylor McCarter (has started all 51 career games) and sophomore Holland Crook, who started 14 of 20 contests last season and had a strong offseason according to Sun Devil head coach Kevin Boyd.

The Sun Devils return the majority of their starting back line from last season in addition to junior goalkeeper Alyssa Gillmore, who came into the season with 30 consecutive starts. Last season Gillmore posted five shutouts, including one of eventual College Cup participant Ohio State.

Gillmore split time with sophomore keeper Vittoria Arnold in the season’s first three contests before Arnold was injured in the first half of ASU’s loss at Virginia (Sept. 2). Gillmore has played every minute of ASU’s last eight contests as Arnold remains sidelined. Gillmore earned her third shutout of the season in ASU’s win over Colorado (Oct. 2).

The injury bug made its way into ASU’s back line three weeks ago as sophomore defender Kaitlyn Pavlovich (had started all 27 games in her career) sustained a back injury against Texas Tech and is currently sidelined indefinitely.

The seven goals ASU scored in its 7-0 win over Northern Arizona on August 19 tied the single-game school record for most goals.  The original record was set and then equaled in consecutive weeks by the 2000 squad, which defeated Pittsburgh 7-0 on Sept. 10, 2000 and then followed that up with a 7-0 win over Eastern Michigan on Sept. 17.

Both Sierra Cook and Alexandra Doller scored a pair of goals against NAU. Also finding the back of the net for the Sun Devils were Jasmine Roth, Devin Marshall and Sarah Van Horn. Holland Crook assisted on a pair of ASU’s goals.

• The Sun Devils have a 10-4-0 all-time record against Oregon State although the Beavers defeated the Sun Devils 1-0 last year in Corvallis, snapping ASU’s three-game winning streak against OSU.
• ASU has a slight 7-6-2 advantage in its all-time series against Oregon. The Ducks have won four of the last five meetings, including a 2-0 victory last year in Eugene.

As has been the case in recent years, the Sun Devils will play one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Sun Devils will face seven teams in 2011 who were ranked in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25 (five of those seven squads reside in the Pac-12 Conference).

Aug. 28 – vs. South Carolina (#21 preseason)
Sept. 2 – at Virginia (#10 preseason)
Oct. 7 – vs. Oregon State (#19 preseason)
Oct. 14 – vs. Stanford (#2 preseason)
Oct. 21 – at USC (#25 preseason)
Oct. 23 – at UCLA (#16 preseason)
Oct. 30 – vs. Washington (#20 preseason)

The Sun Devils have made the most of their opportunities to play in front of their home crowd the last two-plus seasons as they are a combined 15-4-3 at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium since 2009. In addition, the Sun Devils are 15-1-2 in their last 18 non-conference games at home, a stretch which goes back to the 2008 season.

ASU’s seven home wins in 2009 tied the second-highest number of home wins in program history. Last season the Sun Devils established a new single-game attendance record when 1,513 fans poured into Sun Devil Soccer Stadium for ASU’s 2-1 State Farm Territorial Cup Series win over Arizona on October 15. The old record was 1,505 which came against Notre Dame in 2004.

Alexandra Doller’s two goals vs. Northern Arizona tied the school record for the most goals by a freshman in a season opener. Also accomplishing the feat was former Sun Devil Brittney Doty, who scored a pair of goals in ASU’s season opening win at UC Irvine in 2006.

Doller (currently injured) leads the Sun Devils in goals, after scoring her fifth of the season in ASU’s win vs. Pacific (Sept. 18).

On August 9, former Sun Devil Soccer player Stacey Tullock became the first ever soccer player to be named to the ASU Sports Hall of Fame. Tullock is Arizona State’s all-time leader in goals (50), game-winning goals (25), assists (19) and total points (125). In 1998, she became the school’s first All-American selection, awarded by Soccer Buzz. Tullock was officially inducted into the ASU Sports Hall of Fame during halftime of the ASU-Oregon State football game on Oct. 1.

Tullock will be honored by the Sun Devil Soccer program on Oct. 14 when ASU hosts top-ranked Stanford in the NSCAA College Game of the Week on FOX Soccer.