After two consecutive disappointing weekends, the ASU soccer team needed to regroup.
ASU (5-3) lost to now No. 15 Texas Tech two weekends ago in overtime and then lost their first home match to Boise State on Sept. 20, despite outshooting the Broncos.
The loss to Boise State clearly affected the perception of the team’s non-conference slate.
One of ASU’s many goals was a 6-2 start, and the team believed it let the Boise State game slipped away, coach Kevin Boyd said.
“Our team as a whole is real unhappy with last Friday,” Boyd said. “We also are aware enough realistically to know that we just got unlucky. There is an element of that that comes in the game. We didn’t make our own luck, but dang that ball wouldn’t go in in situations that it typically is going in.”
Despite those losses, ASU knows conference games hold far greater weight on the direction of the season.
ASU opens Pac-12 play at home against USC (5-3-1) on Sept. 29 at 4 p.m., in a pivotal conference opener. The game is also televised on Pac-12 Networks.
After USC, ASU hits the road for extremely difficult games at No. 11 Cal and No. 2 Stanford. A loss to USC could start a three game conference losing skid, and five of six games overall, which isn’t very desirable.
The nine days the team will have between games should help everyone, but they will be especially crucial for some of ASU’s injured players.
Boyd said freshman defender Larisa Staub, who missed the last game with an ankle injury, is back on the practice field.
Boyd added that the team was taking freshman defender Mckenzie Grossman’s knee injury “day-by-day” and that there was “no ligament damage.” It’s “to be determined,” which, if any in that pair will start on the backline, Boyd said.
“As I’m talking to players, today especially (Wednesday), they are all feeling better, both in the way we’re training right now but also just getting their energy back … and having a couple days off made an enormous difference,” Boyd said.
USC entered the 2013 season after two consecutive sub-.500 seasons, which is surprising for a program with a fairly recent national championship under its belt. The Trojans began 2013 ranked, but the three losses and a tie dropped them out of the national rankings.
“Why have they had a few downs (seasons)?” Boyd said. “I don’t know. It could be the same thing we’re going through. I do think they’re a very good team though. It’s going to be quite a game.”
Boyd said USC’s strength lies in its offense, which also happens to be ASU’s strong suit.
“I think they’re very similar to us in many ways,” Boyd said. “On their end, they’re a little top-heavy in the way that they are really good in the frontline. The strength of their team is the attacking four. They’re an emotional group. They’re a high-energy group. They are definitely organized and well-coached.”
Reach the reporter at Justin.Janssen@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11