Freshman Force: Meet ASU soccer's talented international freshmen

Midfielders Alexia Delgado and Eva Van Deursen both played in the U-20 Women's World Cup this summer

During the offseason, ASU soccer head coach Graham Winkworth and his staff signed 18 Sun Devils, the largest freshmen class in the program's history.   

With the regular season officially beginning, Winkworth will prepare to showcase two of his international signees from that young class of new freshmen. 

Midfielder Alexia Delgado is 18-years-old and from Jalisco, Mexico and midfielder Eva Van Deursen, 19, is from Veldhoven, Netherlands.

Over the summer, both Delgado and Deursen were selected from their respective countries to compete in the FIFA under-20 Women's World Cup in France. 

"Those two, for freshmen, are probably the most experienced freshmen in collegiate soccer," Winkworth said. "They've played at the highest level, so despite just being freshman, they are very experienced, intelligent young ladies. I love having discussions with them about how we should play the midfield in particular, and they've given me ideas."

Delgado, who was a captain of Club America, a professional soccer club in Mexico City, earlier this year, led the team to championships that ultimately earned them a spot in the World Cup. 

The under-20 Mexican national team was part of Group B in a tournament that included England, Korea DPR and Brazil.

In their opening match, the U-20 Mexican national team won 3-2 against Brazil, with Delgado taking a yellow card. However, the team would go on to lose 2-1 against Korea DPR and 6-1 against England. 

Despite playing with Club America, Mexico's under-17 and under-20 national teams, and winning the CONCACAF women's under-20 championship this year, Delgado decided to pack up all of her belongings and head to the U.S.

"I felt this was a great opportunity because I can continue studying as much as I play, and I want to continue pairing those two together," Delgado said. "In reality, coming here, it is a great opportunity to continue to learn English and speak it much better." 

When it comes to her experiences in the World Cup and in different leagues, Delgado said she hopes to be an example for her ASU teammates, similar to how she played in Mexico.

"What I think it means to come here personally, is to set an example," Delgado said. "The way we work in Mexico, what it's like to be in a national selection and World Cup ... I think now it is about trying to help my teammates, to raise their level overall."

As for Van Deursen, she grew up playing with the women's U-15 national team and was part of the U-17 championship in the Netherlands, and competing with her Dutch teammates at the World Cup was a big reward, according to the Dutch star.

The U-20 Netherlands national team was part of a Group A that included France, New Zealand and Ghana. 

In the team's very first match, Van Deursen's team won against New Zealand 2-1, with Van Deursen securing a goal in the 78th minute. 

The goal was nominated for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Best Goal. 

"My parents were really proud," Van Deursen said. "They sent a message and they were like 'oh you're in the top 10,' you don't expect to be in the top 10 if you start a World Cup." 

The Netherlands would go on to to win 4-0 against Ghana before losing 4-0 against France. The team reached the quarterfinals only to lose against England 2-1. Nonetheless, the experience was still one to remember for Van Deursen.

"The experience was amazing and I've trained for it the entire year so it was a big reward being finally called in the squad," Van Deursen said. "We made it to the quarterfinals and I think it was amazing."

But Deursen said ever since she was really young, she wanted to play in America. 

"I had really good contact with the coaches, and all of the facilities around ASU are super good," Van Deursen said. "That was the main reason I chose ASU."

With the Sun Devil soccer season ramping up, Van Deursen said even though she has only had a couple training sessions with ASU's players, one of her strengths is passing the ball and keeping calm.

Van Deursen and Delgado will continue to grow as Sun Devils and they can be seen in action this Sunday, Sept. 2 against Southeast Missouri State. The match is set for 1:30 p.m. MST.


Reach the reporter at Edith.Noriega@asu.edu or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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