The ASU men’s soccer team remains undefeated after another win on the season defeating University of Texas El Paso 4-0.
Coming into Saturday night’s game, ASU had failed to score since September 15 when they faced New Mexico Tech in a win.
Coach Eisa Shamroukh said the team’s quick 4-0-1 start has been a blessing and a curse. He said the team is still unfocused heading into the last three games of the season.
“We have the talent, we have the team, we have everything, our biggest challenge is to not to get too carried away with the 4-0 start and I think it’s really catching up to us,” Shamroukh said.
Shamroukh made this point clear in Friday’s game against UA by benching some players he felt weren’t fully focused.
The team responded to Shamroukh’s criticism Saturday night by coming out aggressively against UTEP and scoring four goals. The barrage started early on in the game with a goal in the box by senior midfielder Taylor Loken.
Loken said the team needed to come out and attack early to be successful.
“We have fans out here, we have people rooting for us, so to score early helps us calm down,” Loken said.
Both teams pushed the ball in the first half and UTEP was physical from the onset, finding an early opportunity in the fourth minute with a shot that went off the top post.
UTEP created problems for ASU and senior goalkeeper Jason Heckendorn as they attacked the box early and often, but failed to capitalize on those chances at goal.
The physical nature of the game boiled over in the 36th minute when senior forward Tyler Gavin was assessed a red card after getting tangled up on the ground with a UTEP player. UTEP was not assessed a foul on the play.
Right before the first half ended, senior Pat Gumowski connected on a free kick to give ASU a 2-0 lead after 45 minutes of contentious play.
With a man advantage to start the second half, UTEP looked determined to push the ball on every possession. However, it was more of the same in the second half as ASU stifled the offensive attack of UTEP.
UTEP made itself comfortable on ASU’s side of the field, but every shot attempt was met with at least two defenders and suffocating ASU defense.
ASU had its own troubles in the second half, as they were unable to get into a rhythm offensively. Even with a lack of offensive presence ASU’s 10 men were able to hold UTEP from mounting a comeback with the man advantage.
Gumowski tapped in another goal in the 66th minute to seal up the victory against UTEP.
ASU only saw a handful of opportunities on offense but made sure to execute on those few chances. Freshman forward Jefferson dos Santos put away a beautiful header in the 79th minute to put ASU up 4-0, leaving UTEP looking helpless.
ASU played solid soccer for the full 90 minutes and even with a man down, they were able to suffocate and annoy UTEP into playing out of position all game long.
ASU faces NAU next weekend in back-to-back games starting Oct. 12.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @lorenzozazueta