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ASU soccer returns to form after back-to-back wins

The Sun Devils defeated Nebraska on Thursday and No. 21 Texas Tech on Sunday in Tucson

210912 soccer vs tech

ASU sophomore midfielder Jazmine Wilkinson (26) kicks the ball in a game against Texas Tech on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium in Tucson, AZ. ASU won 3-2.

Following its first loss of the season, ASU soccer returned with back-to-back wins, bringing its record to 7-1. 

The team defeated Texas Tech University 3-2 on Sunday in Tucson. On Thursday, ASU played the University of Nebraska, winning 1-0, after previously losing its first game of the season to No. 7 Louisiana State University on Sept. 5.

The Sun Devils defeated the Cornhuskers with the game's lone goal from senior forward Nicole Douglas early in the game, despite both teams recording the same number of shots and shots on goal.

Texas Tech hadn't lost a game in its season until Sunday and is ranked No. 21 in the nation. Previously, the Sun Devils had lost all previous matchups against the Red Raiders since 2011.

"It's huge to get a win over a top 25 team. It's a huge win over a top 50 (Rating Percentage Index) team," head coach Graham Winkworth said. "You know, we lost two more players from Thursday's game before this game and we still performed. We can't afford to lose too many more because we are running out, but we are doing a fabulous job with the next woman-up attitude."

The Sun Devils were also missing one of their key players, senior midfielder Eva van Deursen, on Sunday. The team relied on its bench to step up into these positions. 

"We've got players coming off the bench that are game changing," Winkworth said. "I'm incredibly proud of the players and the whole squad."

The first half was scoreless until a goal in the 44th minute when graduate student forward Olivia Kearse-Thomas was able to redirect the ball from junior forward Dai Williams into the back of the net.

Kearse-Thomas was subbed into the game in the 30th minute and was given specific instructions on how to get past Texas Tech's defense. 

"Coming off the bench, I was told to just get up more into the attack whenever our wingers had the ball and that's how I scored," Kearse-Thomas said. "I just did what my coaches were telling me to do because we are able to see those spaces off the field and then coming onto the field you can take advantage of what you saw from the bench."

ASU made a total of 15 substitutions, subbing players on and off the field to give instructions on how to maintain its advantage. 

ASU's second goal came in at the 52-minute mark when graduate student defender Jayda Hylton-Pelaia was fouled in the box for a penalty kick. The call was contested by all of Texas Tech, including their coaching staff, resulting in the team receiving a yellow card for contesting the referee.  

Douglas scored off the penalty kick and the Sun Devils extended their lead to 2-0. Almost eight minutes later, sophomore midfielder Jazmine Wilkinson scored off a corner kick pushing the lead to 3-0. 

"I knew the game was going to open up for us and what helped us is we scored the next two goals, but those last twenty minutes were nerve-racking," Winkworth said.  

The Red Raiders were far from done. The team's first goal came in the 64th minute, and in the 71st the team scored again, but ultimately lost.

ASU will look to carry its momentum into its next game against Colorado College, the team's last non-conference matchup, on Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. MST in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

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