The ASU men’s club soccer team took its undefeated record back to New Mexico, this time for a semi-final regional match, where it beat New Mexico Tech 3-0.
ASU has not given up a goal since Sept. 15 against the very same New Mexico Tech club in a game ASU won 4-1.
The New Mexico Tech team they faced Saturday afternoon had scored three of the four goals that ASU had given up the entire season.
ASU will now face UTEP Sunday afternoon in the championship match of the regional tournament.
The Sun Devils have now won four straight games with a goal differential of plus 20 since they tied UA on Sept. 13. During that stretch of games, senior goalkeeper Jason Heckendorn and the ASU defense have been impenetrable.
Coach Eisa Shamroukh said the play of Heckendorn has put the club in good position to make a run during the playoffs.
“He’s established himself as one of our main guys and we really want to win for guys like Jason,” Shamroukh said.
Before Saturday’s match, senior midfielder Taylor Loken said the team is focused on not repeating last year’s mistakes.
“We don’t want last year to happen again,” Loken said. “What happened against UA, the drive home from El Paso after losing to our rivals in penalties, that was heartbreaking and we want nothing like that again. So we couldn’t be more focused and couldn’t be more ready for who we play next.”
ASU made sure that they weren’t going lose as they scored early with a goal from senior forward Tyler Gavin. Gavin scored off of a New Mexico Tech turnover to put ASU up 1-0 in the 30th minute.
That goal shifted the pressure to New Mexico Tech, and the Miners changed to an aggressive style after falling behind.
After one half of play ASU was up 1-0 looking to add more security by scoring.
ASU added goals in the second half from senior forward Pat Gumowski in the 65th minute and from freshman midfielder Tyler Angell in the 87th minute to seal another victory for the Sun Devils.
ASU now faces UTEP Sunday afternoon in the regional final. ASU has beat UTEP twice this season with scores of 2-0 and 4-0, the latest coming at home on Oct. 5.
UTEP has yet to score on ASU and Heckendorn and company hope to continue that trend going into the final.
Shamroukh has stressed focus after ASU started the season 4-0 and has since been more fervent about not becoming complacent heading into the playoffs.
Shamroukh said Sunday’s game will be another big test for the team.
“Tomorrow is basically our season,” he said. “(If) we win we’re going to the nationals, (if) we lose nobody is going to remember us. No one will remember our undefeated season.”
Shamroukh said he doesn’t want his team to be overconfident going into the game against UTEP.
“Anything can happen in a championship game,” Shamroukh said. “I’m going to keep the guys focused, I told them that this is just the first half of the game and we still have the second half tomorrow and it’s a lot harder than the first half.”
ASU faces UTEP Sunday, Oct. 27 in Socorro, New Mexico at noon.
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