Preview: ASU women's soccer faces UA in Territorial Cup

The Sun Devils will look to close out their season with a win

The Sun Devil soccer team will finish the season with a match against in-state rival University of Arizona Wildcats to battle for a point in the annual Territorial Cup.

The team enters the rivalry match with eight points in conference play, double what they had a year ago entering the season finale. Since 2010, ASU has had the advantage in head-to-head matchups with a 5-2 record against UA over the last seven years.

The Sun Devils will enter this match with 11 players who have no experience against the Wildcats. ASU head coach Graham Winkworth explained that Senior Associate Athletic Director Don Bocchi informed him how important this match was. 

"It's exciting for me to be a part of this game. It's going to be exciting for these young ladies," Winkworth said. "People are going to say we don't have too much to play for, but we got a cup final. (It's) the biggest game of the season."

Leading ASU goal scorer junior left back/forward Jemma Purfield is one of the key players offensively who has yet to play in the Territorial Cup and leads this Sun Devil team with six goals, three assists and a total of 15 points. 

"I just know it's physical – they're an athletic team," Purfield said. "It's going to be a battle, but regardless we just approach it like any other game." 

ASU senior forward Jazmarie Mader is one of most experienced players on this team when it comes to playing against UA – she explained how intense this rivalry can get. 

"Anytime we go down south or they come here, it's always a full-blown war," Mader said. 

Emotions aside, these teams are complete opposites in every aspect of play. The Wildcats are within the top four of the table with a 6-2-2 record with a high possibility of hosting a home game in the NCAA tournament, while ASU is is 2-6-2 in Pac-12 play with no post-season aspirations to play for.

However, the biggest difference between the two teams is the style of play each team implements. UA plays a more direct style to take advantage of their athleticism, while the Sun Devils this year have pursued a possession-oriented style of play. 

Winkworth said it was imperative for his team to continue playing their possession style regardless of what the Wildcats do. 

"We'll get killed if we turn it into a kick fest – we'll get murdered," Winkworth said. "It's very important that we don't turn this game into a kick fest and allow it to go back and forth because they're far more athletic than we are."

Winkworth added that for his team to be successful in maintaining possession against a high pressing direct team, ASU must remain focused on both sides of the ball.

"It very difficult to turn that light switch. If you haven't got the ball, you gotta battle and fight like the opposing team has and when you do have the ball, you gotta flick the switch and you got to have composure," Winkworth said.

Mader and the rest of the ASU forwards' ability up top to hold the ball will prove pivotal against a high-pressing team like UA.

It remains to be seen whether Sun Devil soccer will be able to dictate the game to their liking – Winkworth has notes this inconsistency, often referring to his team as "Jekyll" and "Hyde."


Reach the reporter at jaramo12@asu.edu or follow @hor_hay10 on Twitter.  

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