Can the Sun Devils do it again?
The ASU soccer team heads to UCLA on Friday seeking its second upset of a No. 2 ranked team in the 2013 season.
ASU (8-5, 3-2 Pac-12) defeated Stanford two weeks ago, which snapped the Cardinal’s 73-game home unbeaten streak. However, Stanford has now lost three games in a row, including the ASU game.
But last weekend, the Sun Devils were on the other end of an upset, falling to Oregon State (3-9-2, 1-3-1 Pac-12) without senior forward Devin Marshall, who served her single-game suspension because of a fifth yellow card.
ASU probably wasn’t banking on a road upset of Stanford, and it expected to beat the Beavers.
Sometimes these games just even out, coach Kevin Boyd said.
“There isn’t anybody you can look past,” he said. “You have to show up with your full game, that full effort. That’s just the demands of this conference. You can’t show up and think you’re going to win.”
As for the regular season, Boyd said ASU is right on track in conference play, but that he was inherently disappointed in the OSU result.
“We’ve won three of five Pac-(12) games,” Boyd said. “We wanted to win a minimum three of the first six. We’ve basically done the minimum. We had an opportunity (Sunday) to win four of five. We’ve got to learn to be consistently good in what we do and that’s a struggle.”
The Sun Devils, who probably would have been ranked if they beat OSU, are now down to 49 in RPI.
Sure, Marshall’s suspension hurt the offense, but the conference is also experiencing extreme parity, with teams from the bottom of the standings showing an ability to knock off the top dogs.
In the first 30 conference games, 25 were decided by either one goal, or ended in a tie. In a sport where scoring goals comes at a premium (16 of those games were scoreless or a 1-0 decision), a singular play often decides games.
These kinds of numbers give underdogs a fighting chance in conference games.
No. 2 UCLA (12-1-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12) is emerging as the frontrunner in the regular season conference title race after tallying 13 points in five games, three more than the next team (Utah). ASU has nine points as three are awarded for a win, and one for a tie.
UCLA’s most obvious strength lies in its defense and goalkeeper. The Bruins allow just .36 goals per game and have already shut out their opponent in eight games.
That serves as quite a challenge for ASU’s offense, which is in a little bit of a rut. In five conference games, ASU has four goals, while in the non-conference portion, the Sun Devils had 18 goals in eight games.
The game kicks off in Los Angeles at 7 p.m.
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