It was hard to tell just how good this Arizona State women’s soccer team is. Until now.
The litmus test came over the weekend when the Sun Devils took the top-ranked team in the country into double overtime, coming tantalizingly close to pulling off what could be considered the biggest upset in school history.
As it was, they played the No. 1 UCLA Bruins to a 1-1 tie in the opening game of the Pac-12 schedule. ASU forward Cali Farquharson actually gave her team a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute of Friday’s contest and the defense held the Bruins off until the 67th minute when a rebound found its way into the net to tie it up.
Farquharson, a junior from Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, was named the Pac-12 Women’s Soccer Player of the Week for her work on offense against the Bruins, while senior midfielder Brianna Gonzalez was recognized for her defensive efforts and also received Player of the Week honors. Last year Farquharson became the first Sun Devil to score double-digit goals in consecutive seasons.
This is the second time in three weeks that Farquharson, who leads the conference in goals and points per game, has earned the award. The first time, she scored five goals in wins over New Mexico and Nevada. Gonzalez played all 110 minutes against the Bruins, tasked with the responsibility of keeping UCLA’s top scorer, Sam Mewis, in check.
The ASU defense kept the top team in the country scoreless for 66 minutes, an offense that has scored multiple goals in seven games so far this season, including three or more on four occasions.
Eighth-year head coach Kevin Boyd is happy with the way his team is blending in the newcomers. He feels the freshmen will have little trouble acclimating to their new college environment. Most of them had been taking summer classes and had been on campus over a month before practices began.
There have been four different Sun Devils selected as POW, which helps explain ASU’s early-season surge to a 7-1-2 record and seven-game unbeaten streak. This year’s roster includes six regular starters that return from a team that went 9-8-2, but will be relying on a solid contingent of freshmen throughout this season.
The draw with UCLA was exciting, but also a bit of a disappointment, says Boyd. “I really liked that we are bummed that we did not play better and get the win,” he said after the game. “We played fine until we scored a goal. I spent most of the game trying to get us back on track, and we never did quite find it.
“We were excited that we were ahead and let that get to us.”
ASU has already posted a win over a ranked team this season, beating Texas A&M when they were the No. 6 team in the country. And last year the Devils shocked No. 2 Stanford to end the Cardinals’ unbeaten record at home that had stretched to 73 consecutive wins.
But a history-making win over the No. 1 team in the nation would have topped everything else.
And it was within their grasp.
(Photos: ASU Athletics)