ASU’s men’s soccer club came away with a point against UA in an often-physical match in Tucson, Friday night.
ASU tied UA 0-0 in a tough defensive battle that got a little heated in the second half.
Senior forward Tyler Gavin said going to Tucson is always a tough match because of the crowd UA draws.
“They get into your face and are really loud,” Gavin said.
Gavin said the team strategy in the first half was to play UA defensively and not allow any easy plays in the box.
ASU limited UA offensively by adding more bodies in the backfield and was able to seal the first half and not allow a goal. UA was limited to a couple shots on goal and senior goalkeeper Jason Heckendorn played solid in the first half.
UA never found its rhythm on offense and were less effective going in the second half. ASU, meanwhile, came out with a more aggressive strategy in the second half and kept UA on its heels by pushing the ball every time it had possession.
Coach Eisa Shamroukh told the team that it needed to keep its composure as the game started to get very physical.
Shamroukh said the team’s execution of the game plan in the first half contributed to UA’s frustration as they had a tough time getting past midfield.
Gavin said the game got heated as players started going back and forth after tough challenges.
ASU had two big scoring opportunities when junior forward Ibrahima Diop and senior forward Patrick Gumowski each had a chance, but were stopped by UA on each attempt.
Diop, who leads the team with five goals, was back in the lineup after skipping the trip to San Diego two weeks ago to rest his injured hamstring.
Gavin said the challenge in the second half was going from a defensive strategy to an aggressive offensive one.
“We had some players out of position to start the second half because of the switch,” he said.
For ASU, senior defensive back Justin Thomas played suffocating defense all game long and was a notable contributor to the shutout against UA. Along with Thomas, goalkeeper Heckendorn’s clean sheet was a product of solid defensive help and his own tough goalkeeping kept UA at bay all game.
ASU will host University of Texas El Paso Saturday in Tempe Saturday night.
Gavin said the team wont have a lot of time to rest, but will try to remain focused against a team like UTEP, that can pull out a win on any given day.
ASU’s tough defense did not allow a goal in its first meeting versus UTEP in Texas earlier in the season.
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