At this point last season, the ASU women’s soccer team was 6-8-1, and in a two-game losing streak.
A postseason berth seemed unlikely, but the Sun Devils strung together four wins in five games at the end of the season to qualify for the postseason. This year, ASU (8-6, 3-3 Pac-12) is in a better position than last year, but still on the postseason bubble.
Coach Kevin Boyd said he believes his team needs to win three of its final five games to make it to the NCAA soccer’s version of the big dance.
“We’re just down to crunch time,” Boyd said. “No matter what, we were going to have to win games down here at the end anyway.”
ASU is on a two-game losing skid because of a struggling offense, which has scored just four goals in its last seven games.
Senior forward DevinMarshall said she feels the Sun Devils are creating enough chances but aren’t putting them away. She said the finishes will come, and the team is focusing on connecting through the midfield to get the offense back on track.
“As soon as we get one goal, we’re going to get two or three or four,” she said. “We’re at a good spot with being above .500, but at this point, it’s what we’re going to do with the next five games that are important.”
On Friday, ASU takes on Washington (7-6-2, 3-1-2 Pac-12), which figures to be another stiff challenge for ASU’s offense. The Huskies allow fewer than a goal per game.
“They’re really well organized, tough to break down defensively,” Boyd said. “I think that’ll be our biggest challenge is trying to find ways to get at them without exposing any sort of counter-attack in our backend.”
Washington used a strong in-conference start after a difficult out-of-conference schedule to get back into the postseason picture. The Huskies, who tied No. 2 UCLA earlier in the season, are just three spots lower than ASU in terms of RPI.
“You’ve got to look at strength of schedule, and they’ve had probably the toughest in the Pac-12 this year,” Boyd said. “From that standpoint, they’re doing quite well actually in terms of keeping their head above water. They’re in the (playoff) run for sure, same as us. They probably need to finish up with three wins as well.”
On Sunday, ASU has a different kind of challenge facing Washington State (9-3-3, 2-3-1 Pac-12). Senior Micaela Castain, who Boyd says has played both attacking midfielder and forward, leads the Pac-12 in goals (11) and points (27).
“She’s very athletic; she’s very active,” Boyd said. “She’s got a good shot. She’s someone we’re going to have to take care of. Wherever she is, we’ll be very attentive to her.”
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