Aug. 15, 2012
The Arizona State soccer team kicks off its 2012 season this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. (PT) when it travels to Los Angeles to take on Cal State Northridge.
After advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2010 the Sun Devils looked destined for even bigger things in 2011. Unfortunately an injury-riddled campaign - ASU's No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 scorers missed a combined 27 games in 2011 - proved to be too much for the Sun Devils to overcome as they went 8-11.
Fast forward to the present and the Sun Devils will look to get back to the string of success they started to build up in 2009-10. Thirteen newcomers join a group of committed returners who put in a strong offseason in preparation for 2012.
"Last year was a learning process for our returners, it doesn't have anything to do with our incoming players," said ASU sixth-year head coach Kevin Boyd. "The incoming players are coming into what we have now and that is a team that has tremendous character.
"I think we are going to play an exciting brand of soccer this season. I look at us in training and sometimes I say to myself, `we can really play.' But until you get to games you really don't know. That's what we'll find out this weekend."
This is only the second time the Sun Devils have played Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles. The only other time was in a game played at Loyola Marymount in 1996 in which Arizona State got its first win in program history by a score of 3-0. The only other meeting between the two schools was back in 2008 as ASU squeaked out a 2-1 victory at home.
Last year Cal State Northridge played very well at home posting an 8-2 record. Among its wins at home was 1-0 win against a strong San Diego team. This year the Matadors have been picked to finish fourth in the Big West Conference.
The Sun Devils can expect a good challenge in this first game of the season as Boyd said, "Northridge is going to be a test. They are deep and they are going to play hard. The Big West Conference teams are typically a really physical group."
Sunday the Sun Devils will remain on the road when they travel south to San Diego State to close out their opening weekend of play with a 1 p.m. (PT) contest against the Aztecs.
"We have a really good San Diego State team that has emerged as a legitimate team on the west coast every year for the last three years." said Boyd.
San Diego State should be a strong team again this year as they have been picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference and also received two-first place votes in the conference poll.
San Diego State played an exhibition game last week against Long Beach State and the game ended in 1-1 draw. The last time Arizona State and San Diego State played was in 2009 as the Sun Devils won by a score of 2-1 at home in a game that went to overtime. Current Sun Devil seniors, Courtney Tinnin and Sierra Josepheach had an assist in that game. Arizona State holds a 4-2-1 record against the Aztecs.
The Sun Devils are 5-0 in season openers under head coach Kevin Boydand are 14-3-4 in games played in August-September going back to the 2009 season. The 5-0 mark in season openers includes a record of 3-0 in season openers played on the road and overall the Sun Devils are 4-1 in first road games of season under coach Boyd.
Among the incoming freshmen this year are Nina Brueggemann from Pinneberg, Germany and Christina Schedel who is from Rosenheim, Germany. Brueggemann is a member of the German National Team. In May 2011 the Sun Devils traveled to Germany to play in some exhibition matches. Brueggemann and Schedel are the first international players on ASU's roster team since Kylla Sjoman(Canada), who graduated in 2008.
Eleven of ASU's 30 players are freshmen. In addition are also two transfer student-athletes making nearly half the roster comprised of newcomers.
Devin Marshallwas named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team in 2010 after finishing third on the team in scoring (10 points) and tied for first in assists (4). Last season Marshall was limited by an ankle injury that caused her to miss seven games. She returns as ASU's returning leader in goals (4) from last season.
Tinnin, who led ASU in assists in 2009 with six, did not play in 2010 due to a knee injury sustained in the spring of 2010. After missing the first eight games of the 2011 season rehabbing the injury, Tinnin returned and ended up tying for the team lead in assists (3).
The Sun Devils will be playing their first five games of the 2012 season on the road. After this weekend the Sun Devils will travel to Flagstaff for a game against Northern Arizona (Aug. 24). The following weekend will see the Sun Devil journeying to the Midwest to take on Missouri (Aug. 31) and Kansas (Sept. 2).
"Normally having your first five games on the road would be a tremendous challenge, but because we have so many new players I don't know that it will be that big of a factor," Boyd said.