Head coach Graham Winkworth wished he was able to bottle up his team’s energy from the final 15 minutes and recreate it for the full match. Arizona State (6-7-3, 0-5-2 Pac-12) has been stuck rut for most of conference play and continued on Thursday night.
The loss to Oregon State (10-3-2, 2-3-2) may have been the most disappointing in the eyes of Winkworth after seeing the 3-1 defeat handed out by the Beavers.
“We didn’t win enough challenges, we were soft in the tackle,” he said. “That’s not technique, that’s not skill. That’s passion and heart. We need more of it.”
For the first 75 minutes of the match, the Beavers outclassed the Sun Devils. Arizona State finally found a spark of energy toward the end. Forward Dai Williams scored the lone goal in the 81st minute for the Sun Devils after they created pressure constantly. However, down three goals, the Williams’ score only meant so much.
“Hard work overrides talent any day,” Winkworth said. “We got to work harder. The last 15 minutes of the game when we really worked hard when we wanted to get back in the game, I thought the girls were the better side and looked like the more dangerous team. If we had started the game that way it might have been a different result...The game isn’t 15 minutes long, it’s 90 (minutes).”
Since Pac-12 play started back in late September, the Sun Devils have continued to search for they first conference win. Playing in arguable the toughest conference in the nation, wins are already a luxury.
Seniors Kylie Miniefield and Christina Edwards, who are playing their final weekend in Tempe before graduation echoed Winkworth. Both disappointed as much as their head coach felt the team needed to show more heart. In Edwards’ words, each girl needs to find their why, in the reason they love soccer.
“You saw it in the last 15 minutes. We were digging in on both sides with a lot of grit,” Edwards said. “..It’s all a mentality and I think a lot of girls are strugging to find that why? That why do you love to play soccer?..The last 15 (minutes) that’s what it needs to look like the whole 90 (minutes).”
Two of the Beaver goals, strikes by Mckenzie Weinert (38th minute) and Abby Schwartz (70th) were scores one just had to applaud and move on. Schwartz’s first goal, scored shortly after Weinert’s, was not the same. The Sun Devils had multiple chances to clear the ball, but never did and it bit them in the end.
The backline — already paired with a freshman goalie — has used three freshmen (Lieske Carleer, Taylor Culver, Callie Darst) for most of the season. And at times, they make freshman mistakes.
“We don’t want to use youth as an excuse for forever,” Winkworth said. “We are in a building process...We are incredibly young but at some point we have to leave that excuse behind us and show up.”
The Sun Devils will host the Oregon Ducks on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Arizona State will celebrate Edwards, Miniefield, goalkeeper Sydney Day, midfielders Lorato Sargeant and Adriana Orozco as part of Senior Day.