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ASU soccer hopes to bounce back after first loss of 2021 season

The Sun Devils suffered their first loss of the season to LSU after winning five straight

210822 ASU vs. Southeastern Louisiana Soccer-12.jpg

ASU sophomore defender Lucy Johnson kicks the ball against Southeastern Louisiana at the Sun Devil Soccer Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. ASU won 2-1.

After defeating Cal State Northridge 4-2 Thursday, No. 21 ASU soccer lost its first game of the season against No. 17 Louisiana State University 5-2 on Sunday to finish off the Sun Devil Classic tournament.

Despite the Sun Devils striking first with a goal from senior forward Olivia Nguyen in the first minute of the game, the Tigers rebounded by scoring five unanswered goals.

The first of those five came less than a minute later from junior forward Rammie Noel. Senior forward Alesia Garcia tacked on another goal in the eighth minute to take the lead. LSU scored two more goals before halftime to take a 4-1 lead. 

Garcia punched in her second goal of the night on a penalty kick for the team's only score in the second half.

Late in the second half, senior midfielder Eva van Deursen finished off a volley to tighten the lead to 5-2. However, ASU would not trim the deficit any further despite generating 22 shots throughout the game, 11 of which were on goal.

"I’m happy with a large part of our performance, we controlled and created a lot of chances, we gifted them those early goals and we weren’t able to get them back," head coach Graham Winkworth said. 

The loss also gave ASU a taste of the physicality and speed that will come in future matches against nationally-ranked Pac-12 teams like UCLA and Stanford.

"I think we competed with them very well, especially in the second half," senior forward Cori Sullivan said. "These are the games we live for; this just helps us to go into the season more prepared to take on Pac-12 teams." 

The team will look to grow from the loss and move forward with the same mentality they had last season.

“I think given that we have a lot of returners from last season, we were the underdogs, I think we still have that grit in us and that really carried over,” Nguyen said. “I think our grit and determination is only going to grow after this loss.”

To learn from their mistakes, the team will prepare for Thursday’s matchup against Nebraska by watching Sunday’s game film and reviewing the goals that were scored by LSU, Winkworth said. Overall, the team is taking this loss as an opportunity to gain confidence against tougher opponents.

"It’s always good to take on opponents like LSU to see the areas we can improve on, and I think that we can come out even tougher and stronger," Sullivan said. "The goals we scored should just give us confidence going against these teams moving forward."

The Sun Devils will head to Tucson at the end of this week for games against Nebraska and Texas Tech University. The team will be on the road until Sept. 30, where ASU will face USC back at Sun Devil Stadium.

"We’re just going to continue to build, I think this is really going to show our character and how we’re going to bounce back from this," Nguyen said. 

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