April 4, 2013
The Arizona State women's soccer team continues its spring season this weekend (April 6-7) when it hosts three games at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. The Sun Devils will open play on Saturday when they take on UTEP (1 p.m.) and Fort Lewis (6 p.m.). ASU will then close out the weekend of play on Sunday when it hosts New Mexico State (1 p.m.).
The Sun Devils have won all four of their contests this spring, defeating NAU and BYU on March 2 and most recently coming through with wins over Cal State Northridge and San Diego on March 23 in San Diego.
"We played well against two good teams," ASU head coach Kevin Boyd said of ASU's recent wins. "We were able to score a lot goals, which I was thrilled to see."
SUN DEVILS NOT AT FULL STRENGTH THIS WEEKEND
Tempering all the positives that came out of ASU's wins over CSUN and USD were injuries to starting forwards Cali Farquharson and Sara Tosti and defender McKenzie Berryhill. While none of the injuries are expected to keep any of the three out for a significant amount of time, Boyd is not expecting any of them to be available this weekend.
"Two of the three players are forwards so I don't know what we are going to look like this weekend," Boyd said. "We have three games and very few subs, which makes this a tough weekend for us. We'll have to play smart."
TOSTI MAKING SMOOTH TRANSITION TO THE FRONT LINE
Last season Sara Tosti proved to be an important contributor for the Sun Devils as she came in as a freshman and played in all 21 games with 14 starts. In what can best be described as a testament to her versatility, Tosti's playing time came not in her natural spot as a forward/midfielder, but rather as a defender. The coaching staff has been using the spring season to return Tosti to her more native position as an attacker.
"Sara has looked great at forward," Boyd said. "Sara did a great job playing in the back for us last season even though that was not her natural position. We knew that and my ultimate expectation was to move her up the field. We've done that and she is showing us why she should be on the front line. She can hold the ball, she can beat people and she has a knack for getting into the right spot."
MIDFIELD COMING TOGETHER
Perhaps the position hit hardest by graduation was the midfield where the Sun Devils graduated three significant contributors from 2012: Taylor McCarter (started all 80 games the last four seasons), Courtney Tinnin (started all 20 games last season) and Aissa Sanchez (played in 17 games with six starts last season). With that in mind, the coaching staff placed a high priority this spring not only on identifying which players will be in the regular playing rotation, but also getting those players to gel as a group and play at the highest level possible.
"I'd say our midfield has been okay thus far," Boyd said "It has not been spectacular, but it certainly has not been poor." Acknowledging that he is speaking from the standpoint of someone who `wants to win the midfield every time,' Boyd further added, "We are not losing the midfield. In most cases we are finding ways to win it, or at the very least against a good midfield like BYU, we were able to play them even."
Boyd said Holland Crook and Tommi Goodman have been the most consistent performers thus far with several others who have `stepped up at moments, but need to be more consistent when they are in there for longer periods at a time.'
DEFENSE CONTINUES TO IMPROVE
Before the spring season started, Boyd mentioned another priority was to see continued improvement from ASU's back line, which returns three starters - Jasmine Roth, Kaitlyn Pavlovich and McKenzie Berryhill - in addition to starting goalkeeper Chandler Morris. With the exception of a sequence late in ASU's win over San Diego, Boyd said he is pleased with what he has seen thus far.
"I think the back line has done a pretty good job," Boyd said. "We have not been giving up a ton of chances and the ones we have been giving up have been from distance. I think that is a tribute to not only to the backs and Chandler, but also to the midfield and even some of the work from the forwards as well."
After this weekend's games, the Sun Devils will next head to Fullerton, Calif., for games against UC Riverside (9 a.m. PT) and Cal State Fullerton (2 p.m. PT) on Sunday, April 14. ASU will then close out its spring season with the annual Alumni Game taking place on Saturday, April 20 with a tentative starting time of 1 p.m. PT. For Boyd, the remainder of the spring season is all about continued growth and development.
"Our overall game has looked pretty similar to what we are trying to put in," Boyd explained. "And while there are little areas we are trying to improve, right now it's about the players continuing to develop their individuals games as we look toward the fall."