ASU soccer’s short rest at home gave them time to prepare for another weekend road trip, this time to the Midwest.
The Illini (1-1) will be first up for ASU on Friday, intent on avenging their first meeting back in Tempe on Sept. 6 of last year. The Sun Devils beat the Illini 4-3 in double overtime.
Junior forward Cali Farquharson scored the winning goal in that game and is one of the keys to making sure ASU (1-0-1) prevails against Illinois and Loyola Chicago.
Coach Kevin Boyd had her sit out at practice after an unspecified injury in Hawaii.
“Hopefully our choosing to sit her out will reward us by her being well for Chicago,” Boyd said.
The offense has shown it can run through freshman forward Aly Moon just as well.
Moon was named the Pac-12 women’s soccer offensive player of the week after racking up three goals and an assist in a 5-2 win over Hawaii.
“I’m thrilled for her,” Boyd said. “We knew all along she was an outstanding talent. I want her to keep scoring hat tricks.”
He said ASU expects a challenge on the road because it’s playing two good teams.
“Illinois is a projected playoff team,” he said. “In terms of the caliber of opponent, we are up against good ones.”
Illinois fell 3-1 to No. 16 Notre Dame in its first home game of the season on Aug. 22, but bounced back with a 2-0 win over Louisville on Sunday, Aug. 24.
“Our goal is to get two wins,” Boyd said. “And I would prefer to win in regular time; we were up on them each time and they kept coming back.”
The Sun Devils have not played Loyola University Chicago during Boyd’s tenure at ASU, but Boyd isn’t worried about his staff’s inexperience in preparing for the Ramblers.
“This will be a new program for us,” he said. “We are going to try and arm our team with knowledge. That’s part of the beauty of soccer. Very little of it can be controlled on the sidelines, most of it is player controlled. We need to make adjustments based on what transpires in the game.”
Host school Loyola is less intimidating on paper. The Ramblers (1-1-2) started the season with a pair of ties, and fell 3-0 to No. 15 Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
However, the Sun Devils get another opportunity to make strides on the road, and both opponents have at least played ranked teams.
Players to watch
Redshirt senior Jannelle Flaws was the team’s leading goal scorer in 2013 with 23, and averaged nearly a goal per game, including 2 last season in Tempe.
She and now student assistant coach Vanessa DiBernardo ran the Illini attack last season, and without DiBernardo (who scored a goal on a penalty kick against ASU during the teams’ last meeting) Flaws will be the Sun Devil’s primary target on defense.
Like ASU, Loyola has a young core on offense. But senior keeper Monica Gonyo and her stellar .816 save percentage will look to shut down the potent Sun Devil midfield and forward group.
ASU plays Illinois on Friday, Aug. 29 at 5 p.m. Arizona time, and Loyola University Chicago on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 11 a.m. Arizona time.
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