Arizona State soccer fans have been waiting for a sign. Something to confirm their belief that this season could turn into something special.
They got their sign over the weekend when the Sun Devils whupped nationally-ranked Texas Tech.
Yes, it was a non-conference win. But it meant so much more than the other six non-conference wins the women’s team has accumulated so far in building a 7-1 record.
ASU has met Texas Tech four times in the past without coming away with a single win. So they’ve now climbed over that mental hurdle with a 3-2 win in which the Devils led the entire game.
Texas Tech was not only ranked No. 21 nationally, but was also unbeaten going into the game, played at University of Arizona‘s Mulcahy Soccer Stadium.
Beating the Red Raiders is further confirmation that the Sun Devils may be on the verge of a big season. ASU’s seven wins are the most after eight games since the 2000 team began that season 8-0. And before the Devils lost to then-No. 17 LSU in a Sept. 5 game in Tempe, they were on an 11-game winning streak in non-conference games that began in 2019.
This is the second straight year that the Sun Devils got off to a 5-0 start, so some consistency also seems to be setting in, due in part to the fact that head coach Graham Winkworth has his entire starting lineup back from last season. This is Winkworth’s fifth season at the helm, time to begin proving he can get the job done since two of his first three teams suffered losing records.
Last year’s squad went 9-6-2 during a season that was anything but normal, as the soccer season was moved back from fall 2020 to spring 2021 as a result of the pandemic. That Sun Devil team had to work through a lot of disruption.
Despite that, it was able to post eye-opening upsets over a couple of nationally-ranked teams, No. 10 USC and No. 3 UCLA. The overtime 2-1 victory against the Bruins marked the first time in 21 years that an ASU team has beaten its conference nemesis.
Sunday’s upset of No. 21 Texas Tech wasn’t as earth-shaking as the USC and UCLA shockers last year, but it will certainly provide some additional confidence and all-important momentum going into Pac-12 play, which begins after the Devils deal with Colorado College on Friday.
ASU stunned the Red Raiders by jumping out to a 3-0 lead and then stiffening on defense to hold on for the win. Olivia Kearse-Thomas redirected a Dai Williams shot attempt to put the first score through the net and give the Sun Devils a 1-0 halftime lead.
A successful penalty shot by Nicole Douglas extended the lead to 2-0 and Jazmine Wilkinson wrapped up the hat trick by sending an ASU corner kick into the net in the 60th minute.
ASU had risen to No. 21 in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 poll, but fell out of the rankings after the loss to LSU. The Texas Tech upset puts them back at No. 20.
And there will be an opportunity to climb even higher in a couple of weeks when they again take on UCLA, once again ranked No. 3.
What are the chances that lightning will strike twice?
(Photo: ASU Athletics)