It was all smiles on Arizona State’s West campus on Friday night as the Arizona State men’s club soccer team thrashed Northern Arizona 8-0 in their second game of the season. The victory improved the team's record to 1-1 on the season.
The Sun Devils were led by striker Ali Ibrahim, who finished the night with five goals. Hassan Alhassan, Fernando Rangel and Braden Silcott chipped in with a goal apiece. It was a much needed confidence boost for ASUFC after last week’s season-opening loss to Arizona.
"It's always good to get the rebound win after a tough loss," said defender and club president Jason Johnston. "We really put everything together that didn’t go right for us that first game."
The maroon and gold dominated from start to finish, holding most of the possession and out-shooting the Lumberjacks 20-4 in the match. The Sun Devils opened the scoring midway through the first half, with Ibrahim latching on to the end of a Connor Holbert cross and sending a header past the NAU keeper.
Later in the half, Ibrahim would tally another when the Lumberjacks committed a turnover in the six-yard box and the keeper came out to play the ball, leaving the goal wide open. Ibrahim weaved his way around a defender and set the ball rolling into the open net to make it 2-0 going into the half. Ibrahim also scored the only goal for ASU in last week’s opener against Arizona.
Arizona State came out of the break hungry for more, scoring just a minute into the second stanza when Ibrahim buried another from close range. He would also score the next two goals, upping his total to five and giving ASU a 5-0 lead in the process.
After drawing a penalty on the visitor's keeper inside the box, Rangel stepped up to take the penalty kick he earned and promptly buried it into the middle of the goal. Just a few minutes later, Alhassan scored on a long-range roller after rounding the keeper, who had come out to almost midfield. Silcott capped the scoring with his goal, and the Devils ran out the clock to get their first win of the year.
"Pretty much, everything went well," Sun Devil player Cody Dunham said after the win. "We kept a clean sheet, which Coach really wanted."
Speaking of the clean sheet, Johnston anchored a back line that did not allow any solid chances to and kept the Lumberjacks flustered all game.
"We went through a lot of training this week about our movements and pressure coverage," said Johnston when asked about the key to the back line's performance. "If you beat one man, you still have to go through the rest of the team."
With this win, Arizona State gets a big confidence boost heading into next week’s Aztec Cup tournament in San Diego. The team will play in non-conference affairs against Chico State, Cal Poly, and UC Irvine while there.