LOS ANGELES – The Arizona State women’s soccer team concluded its stretch of five consecutive road games with its second straight loss, falling to second-ranked UCLA 3-0 on Friday.
Two weeks after upsetting (then) second-ranked Stanford on the road, the Sun Devils (8-6, 3-3 Pac-12) were looking to once again defy the odds. To do that they would have to play a near-flawless game against a Bruins squad which came into the game leading the nation in goals against average (0.35). In addition to its defensive prowess, UCLA (13-1-1, 5-0-1 Pac-12) also offered a dynamic attack that included six players who had scored multiple goals this season.
Math won out in the end as the Bruins scored one goal in the first half (17th minute) and two goals in the second half (53rd minute, 65th minute) to remain the only unbeaten team in Pac-12 play.
“They are a really good team, plain and simple,” said ASU head coach Kevin Boyd. “They are the best team we have seen this year by a significant margin. We didn’t play horrible, but we had a hard time dealing with everything they were bringing at us.”
The game remained scoreless until the 17th minute when UCLA’s Ally Courtnall scored her first goal of the season when she one-timed a chip in the box into the far post.
Despite being outshot 12-3 in the first half, the Sun Devils were still within striking distance when the second half began. That would change seven minutes later when UCLA’s leading scorer, Darian Jenkins, scored her ninth goal of the season to extend UCLA’s advantage to 2-0.
UCLA would add another goal in the 65th minute.
“I give credit to them because they made their chances,” said Boyd. “I think their finishing percentage was very high tonight. I’ve seen some other games where they had way more chances and they didn’t score on them and so we were on the unlucky end in that they stuck them away tonight.”
The Sun Devils put four of their seven shots on frame, however were not able to get anything by UCLA goalkeepers Katelyn Rowland and Alana Munger, who combined for the shutout.
Devin Marshall led ASU with three shots, including two shots on goal. Also recording shots for the Sun Devils were Tommi Goodman, Cali Farquharson, Kaitlyn Pavolvich and Mackenzie Semerad.
As was the case last weekend, the Sun Devils struggled to create quality chances because of their inability to string together a succession of passes in the midfield. On Friday, the pressure of UCLA had a lot to do with ASU’s passing inefficiency.
“We took too long to get passes off and you can’t do that against a team like that,” explained Boyd. “Because we were continuously defending we didn’t transition well into an attacking mentality when we had the ball.”
The Sun Devils now look forward to a stretch in which they will play four of their final five games at home where they are 4-1 this season. Boyd knows they will need to have similar success if they are to make to make it to the postseason.
“It will be nice to be back playing at home,” said Boyd. “If we want to stay alive and realize our goal of getting to and having success in the playoffs then we need to start getting some wins.”
The Sun Devils return to action on Friday (7 p.m.) when they host Washington at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium.