The ASU soccer team faces Colorado and Utah at home this weekend and is looking to get back on track to earn an NCAA berth.
ASU coach Kevin Boyd has said that ASU needs to win its final three games to qualify. In the last four games, ASU (8-7-1, 3-4-1) hasn’t scored a goal, and its record has dropped from 8-4 to 8-7-1.
“We need to get over our own demons, which are scoring goals right now,” Boyd said. “I feel like we have an idea of what we need to do better, and it’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it.”
The struggles haven’t occurred because of a lack of chances. ASU has taken 62 shots in those four games without finding the back of the net.
To try and get the offense going again, Boyd said the team needs to be more dangerous in its shot selection and to have better movement off the ball.
Despite ASU’s offensive struggles, the team’s defense has made major strides behind redshirt sophomore goalie Chandler Morris and sophomore defender McKenzie Berryhill. ASU allowed 1.57 goals per game in 2012 and has drastically cut that total to 1.06 in 2013.
“You always look to your goalkeeper and back four when you talk about defense, but it’s been a full team contribution,” Boyd said. “It’s been the midfield. It’s been the forwards. Everybody’s working on defending. I think our team defending has been very good.”
ASU takes on Colorado (12-4-1, 4-3-1) on Friday, which will serve as the most difficult game of the last three. The Buffaloes are led by senior forward Anne Stuller and freshman forward Brie Hooks, who each have scored eight goals.
“They defend very well,” Boyd said. “I think they’re real committed to their defense, and I think their counterattack is excellent and fast. Add to that, they’ve got a senior forward who has been a dominant forward in our league for the last couple years now, and they’ve added a freshman who’s doing a nice job, too.”
On Sunday, ASU takes on a Utah team (8-3-6, 4-2-2 Pac-12) that has a knack for keeping games close. Utah’s last nine games have all been decided by a goal or fewer, including an impressive tie against No. 2 UCLA. At home, the Utes are 6-0-4, and on the road just 2-3-2.
“They’re very well organized,” Boyd said. “It’s the same team as last year, just a year older, another year wiser. … They’re finding ways to win games, tie games. They don’t lose. They make it very, very difficult for (opposing) teams.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11