ASU’s men’s soccer club gets back into action this week when it faces UA in Tucson on Oct. 4.
The club has been off from conference play since its last home game against New Mexico Tech on Sept. 15 in a lopsided win for ASU, 4-1.
The team hopes that the time off has prepared them for this weekend’s back-to-back games in Tucson against UA and then home against University of Texas at El Paso on Oct. 5.
In its first game against UA earlier in the season, ASU got off to a slow start in front of an excited home crowd.
The team went down 0-1 early in the first half of play, but quickly recovered to start the second half.
In the second half, ASU stifled the UA offense, allowing only two shots on goal for the remainder of the game. That allowed ASU to get back into the game with three unanswered goals.
The game ended 3-1 and gave ASU its third straight win on the season.
That win against UA was important to coach Eisa Shamroukh and the returning players from last year’s team.
That team lost in penalty kicks to UA in the conference championship last season, and it was the only conference play loss for ASU.
Now ASU expects a completely different opponent on Friday.
Shamroukh said he expects that UA will be ready to play in front of its home crowd.
“They’re going to be more aggressive, we’re going to try to suck in all that energy from them,” Shamroukh said.
The team participated in the Aztec tournament on Sept. 21, where they tried to implement new formations and test out some players who haven’t played many minutes this season.
Although the team did not win the tournament, the Sun Devils did gain playing time together, which will be crucial going into the next batch of conference games.
The long rest has been a welcome change for a team that has played multiple back-to-back games on the road this season that included trips to New Mexico and Texas in the same weekend.
The time off also helps the team recover from fatigue and injuries, the most notable of which is to junior forward Ibrahima Diop.
Diop has been nursing a hamstring injury all season, but has found a way to lead the team in goals with five.
Shamroukh said the team needed this time off especially for the health of Diop.
“The last two weekends, we couldn’t use Iba, because of his injury, so that’s a positive that we can have him at close to 100 percent,” Shamroukh said.
Shamroukh said the game in Tucson will be a big challenge for the team but said the game the following night against UTEP is a game they cannot afford to overlook.
“The biggest problem we’ll have is celebrating the game against UA. If we beat them, we still have to stay focused for the next game,” he said.
The men’s club team faces UA on Friday in Tucson and then UTEP the following night in Tempe.
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