One of the main objectives in a team’s early season schedule is to gauge its strengths and weaknesses for when tougher opponents loom.
The ASU soccer team is no different, and through three games, it has a rough sketch of where it is.
When the Sun Devils take on Kansas (3-1) and Illinois (3-1) in the Sun Devil Classic, they’ll have an even better idea of what areas they need to work on and improve, because those schools are the same caliber as ASU.
Illinois storms into Tempe white hot, scoring 17 goals in the season’s first four games, including 11 last weekend. Overall, as a program, it has appeared in the postseason nine times in the past 10 seasons.
The Illini are led by redshirt junior forward Janelle Flaws, who tabbed a hat trick last weekend and already has five goals this season.
Flaws has missed two entire seasons with various injuries, but through four games, she’s already surpassed her career high in goals.
Perhaps more important than Flaws’s breakout performance in 2013, the Illini have showcased their depth with 10 different players already scoring goals this season.
Just three players have scored goals for ASU, and sophomore forward Cali Farquharson has tallied two-thirds of them.
In its most challenging test, Illinois lost to No. 10 Notre Dame by three goals. It also defeated a solid Louisville team in overtime.
After ASU takes on Illinois on Friday, it’ll close the weekend with a rematch against Kansas on Sunday.
ASU has some familiarity with the Jayhawks after tying them last year in Lawrence. In that game, Farquharson scored a goal for the Sun Devils.
Although All-Big-12 First Team midfielder Whitney Berry finished her career with the Jayhawks last season, senior forward Caroline Kastor returns after scoring 11 goals last year.
Kansas did not make the NCAA tournament last season, but qualified in 2011. The Jayhawks started the season with a loss to Arkansas, but they’ve reeled off three consecutive wins.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11