Nov. 2, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. - For the second time in as many games, freshman Cali Farquharson scored the game-winning goal to lead the Arizona State women's soccer team to its fourth straight win on Friday, a 2-1 triumph over in-state rival Arizona.
With the win, the Sun Devils (10-8-2, 6-4-1 Pac-12) in all likelihood clinched a spot in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced on Monday (2:30 p.m. MT streamed live on NCAA.com). In addition, the win also tied ASU for fourth place in the Pac-12, giving the Sun Devils their best conference finish since 2004 when they also tied for fourth.
"This squad deserves a lot of credit," ASU head coach Kevin Boyd said. "We have put together a pretty good run in the last couple weeks. I think this absolutely cements [an NCAA Tournament berth]. We felt that we needed to get 10 wins to get there. We got the 10th win tonight and we did it under a lot of pressure."
The Sun Devils have faced playoff-like pressure in every one of their contests since a 2-0 loss to Cal on Oct. 12 dropped them to 6-8-1. They have not lost since, reeling off a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) to end the regular season.
There has been no lack of drama during ASU's recent run of success as three of the four wins have been 2-1 decisions decided in the last six minutes of the game or overtime.
Friday's game would be one of those nail-biters as the Sun Devils - with their postseason hopes seemingly on the line - found themselves in a battle after Arizona (6-11-3, 2-7-2) tied the game at 1-1 in the 66th minute.
Although the Sun Devils dominated the action- outshot Arizona 16-6 over the last 45 minutes - they found themselves turned back time and again by Arizona goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman, who made seven of her eight saves in the second half.
As the game clock started to tick closer to the end of regulation, Farquharson, who scored the game winner with 22 seconds left in the second overtime of ASU's 2-1 win over Colorado last week, would come up big once again. With fewer than two minutes remaining, the freshman sensation took a pass from teammate Devin Marshall, slipped her defender and one-timed a shot into the far post for her ninth goal of the season and a 2-1 ASU lead.
"You kind of felt like [the goal] was coming," Boyd explained. "We were getting after them and felt like someone was going to get loose and find a clean shot."
As much as anything else, Farquharson's persistence to keep attacking was spurred on by wanting to play for her senior teammates - "I did it for them. I didn't want it to be the last game for them."
More than 900 fans came out to Sun Devil Soccer Stadium on Senior Day to bid adieu to a senior class -- Alyssa Freeman, Sierra Joseph, Mimi Kocela, Taylor McCarter, Miah Mollay, Aissa Sanchez, Nicki Stone, Courtney Tinnin and Kiara Williams -- which Boyd said has had a lot of influence on the team's late-season run.
"I think [the seniors] have done a great job of creating a nice culture within the squad itself. I think they responded with urgency and I think that influenced our younger players who then responded with urgency. We have had a big group of players who have contributed to where we are right now. Credit to the whole group of them. They've had great character and I'm really pleased and proud of them."
Given the theme of the day, it seemed appropriate that a senior combination teamed up for ASU's first goal of the day. It came in the 51st minute when Freeman connected with Tinnin, who sent a shot over Kaufman's reach to give ASU a 1-0 lead.
"I was in the right place at the right time," Tinnin remarked of her third goal of the season.
Tinnin's goal broke the impasse as the two teams went back and forth for much of the first half and into the opening minutes of the second half. Sun Devil goalkeeper Chandler Morris, who allowed a goal or fewer for the 11th time this season, was responsible for breaking up the best scoring opportunity either team had in the first 45 minutes when she came off her line to stifle a breakaway by Arizona's Jessica Culver.
Despite giving up a goal, the Sun Devil defense came up with another solid effort on Friday, allowing only four shots on frame.
With the win, ASU improved its all-time record against Arizona to 15-2-1. Each of the last six and six of the last seven matches contested between the two schools have been decided by 2-1 scores with ASU winning five of those games.
After going 5-5 in one-goal games last season, the Sun Devils finished the regular season 6-2 in one-goal decisions.