The ASU men’s soccer team began its season on the road for a trip that had it facing New Mexico Tech on Saturday afternoon.
The Sun Devils held on to beat the New Mexico Tech Miners 3-2 in their first game of the season.
ASU senior forward Pat Gumowski put away the first goal in the 40th minute after New Mexico Tech’s physical play in the box led to a penalty kick for ASU.
Coach Eisa Shamroukh said the team employed a shut-down strategy in the first half that left New Mexico Tech frustrated and behind 1-0 at the end of the half.
“We started a little slow,” Shamroukh said, “We couldn’t really get attacking chances.”
Shamroukh said that because the team has a game against the University of Texas El Paso tomorrow, he doesn’t want to risk having a player get hurt against a physical team like the Miners.
“We tried to basically go to the outside,” he said. “Go to the wings and try not to have too much play in the center of the field. They were just too physical with us.”
Shamroukh said the shutdown defense that Sun Devils employed in the first half helped them secure the goal that would allow them to be more aggressive in the second half.
ASU came out with an attacking-mentality in the second half and capitalized right away as junior midfielder Ibrahima Diop scored in the 47th minute to put ASU up 2-0.
It didn’t take long for ASU to seemingly put the game away either, as Diop connected with another goal a few minutes later in the 50th minute to put ASU up 3-0.
Diop said he prepared for the game by focusing on getting good runs on the ball and finding good locations for shots.
“The challenge was at the beginning of the game, trying to find my spot on the field and getting good touches,” Diop said.
The last 30 minutes proved difficult for ASU, as New Mexico Tech was able to score shortly after the 60th minute and again later in the game to make the score at 3-2.
Shamroukh said the Miners’ goals were a result of poor communication and player fatigue on behalf of the Sun Devils.
New Mexico Tech was physical throughout the game was even getting away with poor tackles and late hits, Shamroukh said.
“There were a couple of bad hits after the play so I was concerned about a couple of my main guys getting hurt, “ he said.
Because of the importance of the game against UTEP tomorrow, Shamroukh decided to take some of his starters out of the game as a precaution.
Shamroukh said he was pleased with how his team performed with only 2 practices before its first game.
Diop said Texas El Paso will be a tough test for ASU, but he expects his team to have confidence coming off a win.
“Everything comes down to communication,” Diop said. “It will be the key to our success against Texas (El Paso).”
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