TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cali Farquharson and Sara Tosti both found the back of the net and Chandler Morris made four saves to help lead the Arizona State women’s soccer team to a 2-0 win over Cal State Northridge on Friday in the season opener for both teams.
For the Sun Devils (1-0), the variances between Friday’s win and last season’s season opener – a 1-0 loss at Cal State Northridge – went well beyond a change of venue.
Farquharson, who would go on to lead the Sun Devils in goals last season (10), missed last year’s contest at Cal State Northridge (0-1) due to injury. Tosti, a forward by trade when she entered the Sun Devil soccer program, would end up playing on ASU’s backline last season (played in all 21 contests with 14 starts) with the expectation that she would eventually be moved back to her natural position. That transition took place last spring and on Friday she was starting alongside Farquharson and senior Devin Marshall on ASU’s front line. Morris, meanwhile, was one of four Sun Devils who was making her first career start in her first career game in last year’s opener.
Add the sum of those differences to the contributions of six other returning starters – including Marshall (No. 10 all time on ASU’s all-time list for both career points and goals), defender Jasmine Roth (started her 58th career game on ASU’s backline on Friday) and midfielder Holland Crook (made her 50th career start on Friday) – then factor in a host of other seasoned returners and talented newcomers and what you have is a squad that has the potential to be one of ASU’s best in recent memory.
“It was a good first match and it was certainly a battle out there,” ASU head coach Kevin Boyd said following the win. “I thought we had to work really hard to earn the win. Give credit to the team because we found a way to post a shutout, which is what we wanted, and we got two good goals out of it. All in all I’m satisfied with the first game. I just think we need to improve as we go forward.”
Farquharson, who scored a goal in four of ASU’s last five games of 2012, including the last three, picked up right where she left off last season netting ASU’s first goal of 2013 in the 29th minute. The goal was set up by senior Jessica Domenichelli, who beat her defender down the left side of the field and then fed a cross to Farquharson, who sent the ball past charging Matador goalkeeper Rebecca Harper for the goal.
A determined defensive effort helped the Sun Devils keep the Matadors off the scoreboard despite CSUN ending the match with a slight 5-4 edge in shots on goal. That same defense also contributed to ASU’s success on the offensive end as a heads-up play by Crook started a sequence that helped the Sun Devils extend their lead to 2-0 in the 64th minute. Defending an oncoming Matador, Crook managed to pilfer the ball away and set up a sudden attacking opportunity for ASU. Crook quickly advanced the ball the opposite direction and found Tosti, who, breaking open in the middle of the field, outraced her pursuer toward the goal and fired a shot from the top of the box to score her first career goal.
Boyd was pleased with his team’s offensive performance on Friday, confirming his expectation that ASU has several players who are dangerous on the offensive end not only as goal scorers, but also in their ability to create scoring opportunities for others.
While the Sun Devils looked impressive on both sides of the field, Boyd acknowledged the team has plenty of room for improvement.
“We need to work on strategy and know how to play better in certain moments and that is something we will discuss,” Boyd said.
The Sun Devils return to action next week when they travel to the Lone Star State for their first road trip of the season. The first of ASU’s two assignments in Texas will take place on Fri., Aug. 30 (7:30 p.m. CT/5:30 p.m. MT), when it faces No. 12 Texas A&M. The Aggies were edged at home, 1-0, by No. 7 Duke on Friday. ASU will then close out the weekend with a contest at Stephen F. Austin on Sun., Sept. 1 (11:30 a.m. CT/9:30 a.m. PT).