ASU men’s soccer headed into Sunday’s game against New Mexico Tech, off the momentum of its big win over rival UA.
ASU (4-0) defeated New Mexico Tech (0-3) last weekend 3-2 in a game that saw them go up 3-0 only to allow the Miners to score two goals toward the end of the game.
ASU men’s coach Eisa Shamroukh said the team needs to avoid getting complacent after three straight wins.
“We have to have the same intensity and focus as any other game that we play,” Shamroukh said. “Every game is as important as the one you played before. It doesn’t matter who you played before.”
Shamroukh rested some of his starters to conserve energy after a physical game against UA on Friday night.
ASU’s top scorer, junior forward Ibrahima Diop, was one notable player who sat out against New Mexico Tech.
Diop has been dealing with tightness in his right hamstring since before the season began.
Shamroukh also started junior goalkeeper Che Kantora for the first time this season, giving junior goalkeeper Sam Hadley a rest after a solid performance against UA on Friday night.
Through the first 14 minutes of the game, ASU’s tough defensive pressure kept New Mexico Tech from crossing midfield and frustrated the Miners.
The first time that New Mexico Tech crossed midfield was on a long pass that found its way to Miner forward Ben Nzavi, who shot over Kantora for the 1-0 lead over ASU.
After falling behind early, ASU clamped down and were able to keep New Mexico Tech from crossing the midfield line for the rest of the half.
Right before halftime, ASU capitalized on a set piece in the box after a pretty one-touch move by freshman forward Jefferson dos Santos led to a quick goal, tying the game 1-1.
It was a blazing 97 degrees at kickoff and after a half of play both teams struggled to stay fresh on this brutal afternoon.
ASU came out in the second half looking to push the ball after regaining momentum at the end of the first half, while New Mexico Tech looked especially tired having played the night before against UA.
In minute 48, ASU pushed the ball to senior forward Pat Gumowski, who got behind the New Mexico Tech defense and had an opening. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the shot went wide right, hit the right post and went out of play.
New Mexico Tech came out sluggish and its defense seemed to be flat-footed in the backfield as it struggled to keep ASU at bay.
ASU took advantage of the slow backfield and in minute 60, junior midfielder Ryan Martin crossed a beauty from the left side to senior forward Tyler Gavin who was fouled in the box. The Miner infraction led to a penalty kick that forward Gumowski nailed, putting ASU up 2-1.
Just three short minutes later ASU came up the left side again and in almost the same exact play, midfielder Martin crossed a perfect pass to forward Gavin who put it past the goalkeeper to give ASU a commanding 3-1 lead.
The goal led to the ejection of New Mexico Tech defenseman Randall Chafin, who received a red card for arguing with the head referee.
With the team down a player, New Mexico Tech looked defeated. ASU out-hustled the Miners, who could not respond.
Gavin said that the Sun Devils’ slow start gave them more reason to come out aggressive in the second half.
“We could tell after we put that first goal on them, they were down on themselves,” Gavin said. “They were getting hot and frustrated.”
In his last game with the club, freshman midfielder and Keisuke Oikawa scored in the 90th minute on a quick play in the box to give ASU a 4-1 lead. Oikawa is is going back to Japan as his study abroad session has ended.
The goal sealed the Sun Devils’ fourth consecutive victory and second over New Mexico Tech on the season.
The Sun Devils travel to San Diego next weekend for non-conference play in the Aztec Cup.
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