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Soccer travels to Tucson to face Texas Tech and Pacific

September 16, 2011

The Arizona State women’s soccer team makes its second road trip of the season this weekend when it heads to Tucson, Ariz., to compete in the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Cats Classic hosted by the University of Arizona. The Sun Devils will face Texas Tech on Friday at 5 p.m. and Pacific on Sunday at 11 a.m.

This weekend represents the first of three consecutive weeks in which the Sun Devil will find themselves on the road. Next week ASU opens up Pac-12 Conference play when it travels to Berkeley, Calif., to take on California (Fri., Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. PT). Then the following week, ASU will travel north to take on new Pac-12 members Utah (Fri., Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. MT) and Colorado (Sun., Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. MT).

ASU hosted the Sun Devil Desert Classic and came away with a split, defeating Oklahoma 3-0 on Friday before dropping a tough 1-0 decision to Missouri on Sunday.

Alexandra Doller (team leading fourth goal of the season), Blair Alderson (first career goal) and Sierra Cook (third goal of the season) all found the back of the net against Oklahoma while junior goalkeeper Alyssa Gillmore made six saves to earn her first shutout of the season.

Against Missouri, ASU controlled the action for much of the first half as they had decisive advantages in both shots (5-1) and corner kicks (6-2). In the second half, however, the Tigers turned the tables as they started to create numerous scoring opportunities.

Helping to keep the game a scoreless tie was Gillmore, who made four of her five saves in the second half.

It appeared the game would be headed for overtime when in the 88th minute Missouri junior defender Abi Raymer sent a shot from 25 yards that was out of Gillmore’s reach and found its way into the near post.

The Sun Devils nearly got the equalizer moments later when sophomore Blair Alderson found her way into the penalty area however she was not able to get off a shot after appearing to be fouled.

Sophomore midfielder Holland Crook led ASU on the afternoon with five shots while freshman midfielder Jessica DeLeon added three.
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 their 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). However the Sun Devils were dealt a serious blow when Marshall sustained an ankle injury while assisting on teammate Alexandra Doller’s goal in the first half of ASU’s 3-1 loss at Old Dominion (Sept. 4). Marshall did not play in last week’s contests against Oklahoma and Missouri 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) 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. Tinnin is still rehabbing the injury and has yet to play in 2011.

Doller has been ASU’s top offensive performer thus far in 2011 as she currently leads the team with four goals.

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 46 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 backline 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 played every minute of ASU’s contests against Oklahoma and Missouri last week. She made 11 saves on the weekend while earning her first shutout of the season against Oklahoma.

Arnold remains sidelined and is being evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

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.

• This weekend’s contests will represent the first time the Sun Devils have met either Texas Tech (4-3 in 2011) or Pacific (4-3 in 2011).

One of the biggest factors in ASU’s success the last two-plus seasons has been its ability to get off to good starts to open the season. Including the first four games of 2011, the Sun Devils are 16-6-4 in August and September games since 2009.

Last season the Sun Devils began with a 6-0-1 record, which represented the second-longest unbeaten streak to start the season in school history. The only ASU team to have a longer streak was the 2000 squad, which began the season 9-0-0.

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 leads the Sun Devils in goals after notching her fourth of the season in last Friday’s contest vs. Oklahoma.

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 (44), game-winning goals (15), assists (19) and total points (107). In 1998, she became the school’s first All-American selection, awarded by Soccer Buzz.