STANFORD, Calif. – Sara Tosti scored her third career goal and Chandler Morris made seven saves for her fourth shutout of the season as the Arizona State women’s soccer team stunned second-ranked Stanford 1-0 on Sunday.
With the win the Sun Devils (7-4, 2-1 Pac-12) ended the Cardinal’s (9-1-1, 2-1) 73-match unbeaten streak at home and its 44-match winning streak in conference play. The former dated back to 2007 and the latter to 2008. With the win Sun Devil head coach Kevin Boyd is also now the all-time leader in career wins at Arizona State with 61.
Coming into this weekend’s contests at No. 11 Cal and No. 2 Stanford, the Sun Devils found themselves still in search of a signature win against a Top 25 opponent after coming up short in their two prior opportunities. On paper, ASU’s best chance for that win appeared to be Friday’s game against a Cal team, which, although it came in undefeated, did not present quite the David vs. Goliath matchup – see Stanford’s aforementioned streaks coming into Sunday – that awaited the Sun Devils against Stanford.
Despite outplaying Cal for of much Friday’s game, the Devils came up on the short end of a 2-1 decision in which they lost not only the contest, but also starting midfielder Mackenzie Semerad for the Stanford game after the redshirt sophomore midfielder was accessed a red card while trying to prevent a Cal goal.
“The main thing was we wanted to get a point or a win out of this weekend,” explained Boyd. “The Cal game was the one that we really thought we could get and wanted to pay attention to. We figured we’d go for that win and then go for broke on Sunday and see if we could get them both. As it turned out, we played well Friday and outplayed our opponent, but we didn’t get the win, which is the game of soccer sometimes. After that, all of our focus went to Sunday and the one thing I thought going into the game was that (Stanford) was beatable. We just needed to believe it and we needed to go in and play like we believed it and we did.”
Part of Boyd’s belief in what his team was capable of came from ASU’s game at Stanford last season. In that game the Sun Devils controlled much of the action in the first half as they recorded the only two shots on goal in the first 45 minutes. In the second half ASU was not able to sustain its play and Stanford would go on to score three goals in the second half for the 3-0 win.
Sunday’s match started off very similar to last year’s as the Sun Devils came out and did not show any timidity or reluctance to attack the Cardinal, which had outscored the opposition a combined 26-6. ASU took seven of the game’s first 11 shots. Tosti took three of those shots, the last of which found the back of the net in the 24th minute on a strike from 25 yards.
“I’ve really wanted to see Sara Tosti take more shots because she has an incredibly dangerous shot that dips all the time,” said Boyd. “Also [ASU’s top two scorers] Cali (Farquharson) and Devin (Marhsall) tend to draw more attention which means that Sara is going to find more space if she is alert to it. I think she was thinking that today and went and found herself some shots. You give her those shots and she’s going to find a way to score.”
With Tosti’s third goal of the season on the board the good news for the Sun Devils was that they were ahead. The bad news was that there was still more than 66 minutes of soccer remaining to play against a team which failed to score a goal only two times in its last 34 matches going back to last season.
Instead of simply laying back, the Sun Devils remained aggressive as a little more than a minute after the goal ASU was knocking on the door again, but shots by Tosti (blocked) and Blair Alderson (saved) were denied.
As the game wore on, the Cardinal’s great offensive talent combined with its increasing desperation to tie the game made for some very anxious moments on the Sun Devil sideline. After being outshot 11-6 in the first half, Stanford took twice as many shots as ASU in the second half (13-6), putting five of those shots on goal and several others in dangerous areas of traffic where anything was possible. Each time however, the Sun Devils would respond either by putting pressure on Stanford’s attackers to increase the degree of difficulty of their shots, or with Morris coming through with outstanding saves.
“I thought today we rolled up our sleeves a little bit and made sure they never got a chance on us and any chance they did get we made it very difficult for them,” said Boyd. “We wanted to make them work for any opportunities they got.”
The Sun Devils would allow only two shots in the last five minutes of the game on their way to knocking off a top 10 team for the second time in as many seasons. Last season ASU defeated No. 10 Pepperdine, also by a 1-0 score. Sunday’s win marked the second time in school history that the Sun Devils defeated a team ranked as high as second. In 2001 the Sun Devils upset No. 2 Stanford, 1-0, at home in overtime.
For Boyd, who is now the career leader in wins at two Pac-12 schools – ASU and Cal – Sunday’s win represented another step forward for a program with ambitious goals of earning recognition on a national level.
“Hopefully this will help us continue to move toward being the championship program we want to be,” said Boyd. “To do that we need to believe we should be winning every game that we play. It’s that mentality you really need if you want to strive to be the best.”
The Sun Devils return to action next week when they travel to the state of Oregon for contests at Oregon (Fri., Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. PT) and Oregon State (Sun., Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. PT).