ASU Soccer: ASU FC drops frustrating rematch with Northern Arizona

Nicholas Welter

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Frustrations began to boil over for Arizona State's men’s club soccer team Friday night in a 3-1 defeat against Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.

A questionable tackle from a Lumberjack player in the 80th minute got under the skin of some Sun Devil players, and a skirmish ensued with some shoving and verbal clashing. Two Sun Devils received yellow cards for their roles in the encounter.

"It’s just the frustration of trying to score," defender and captain Jason Johnston said. "It just really builds up inside. They say something, and you say something back, and it just builds from there."

The maroon and gold certainly had their struggles putting the ball in the net, recording 19 shots (14 of them on goal), but only putting one goal on the scoreboard. NAU’s goalkeeper stymied the Sun Devils all night with 13 saves to preserve his team’s lead.

"The biggest factor was our midfield," said Northern Arizona head coach Zdravko Gerganoff. "Our back line would slow them down enough to the point where our midfield could catch up. Our goalkeeper played lights out."

A shot across the box into the bottom left corner gave the Lumberjacks a 2-1 lead in the 49th minute. It was a lead they never relinquished, as NAU tallied again in the 73rd minute for insurance on a fantastic run of passing. Those were the only two goals of the second half.

They came after Arizona State’s Connor Holbert infused some energy into his squad in the last few minutes of the first frame. He got on the end of a corner kick and headed home a goal in the 42nd minute to give the Sun Devils an equalizer heading into the break.

The Lumberjacks scored off a free kick in the 19th minute to take an early lead. NAU took advantage of its opportunities all night, scoring on three of its seven shots on goal.

"The result doesn’t show how the game went," Arizona State head coach David Paul said after the loss. "When you have that many shots on target and breakaways like we did, if you don’t put them in, they’re gonna come back, and they might get a result."

For the maroon and gold, this loss moves them to 3-5 on the season after going 1-2 at the Aztec Cup two weeks ago and splitting their two matches on the road last weekend. The Sun Devils lost 2-1 to UTEP last week and beat New Mexico Tech by the same score.

Arizona State will host that New Mexico Tech team on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. on ASU’s West Campus. Coach Paul expects to see a different Sun Devil team when they take the field Sunday.

"We’re going to really have some passion and fire. This is a game we feel we should’ve won and we’re really getting after it on Sunday."

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