The Arizona State Sun Devils return to the pitch on Thursday, August 22 when they travel to Cal State Fullerton to open their season.
2018 Record: 10-7-1
Head Coach: Graham Winkworth (Third season)
Key Returners: Sophomore forward Nicole Douglas, Sophomore midfielder Marleen Schimmer
Key Departures: Midfielder Jemma Purfield (Graduated), goalkeeper Nikki Panas (Transferred to Oklahoma), defender Angela Boyle (Graduated), defender Madison Wolf
In Graham Winkworth’s third season in charge in Tempe, the team saw a large international takeover. By the end of the season, two freshmen were the top point scorers. English forward Nicole Douglas led the Sun Devils with nine goals and had four assists that ranked second on the team. She did all of that while only playing 14 games due to her missing four matches while on International duty with England’s Under-19 women’s national team.
Douglas only had a piece of the puzzle. The roster includes players from Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, Mexico and Douglas’ partner in crime from Germany, Marleen Schimmer.
Schimmer turned it on later in the season. She scored four of her five goals during ASU’s four-game winning streak in October, including two late goals against Oregon to secure a thrilling victory.
That stretch helped put the Sun Devils to possibly make the NCAA Tournament. However, early season losses to New Hampshire and Utah while added that ASU couldn’t pull at least a draw against Arizona in its second to last game left the Sun Devils at home during the postseason.
ASU has a solid chance to reach the tournament for the first time since 2014 if Douglas and Schimmer can continue on from last season. The Sun Devils will need more breakout performers to get there though.
Two potential candidates could be sophomore midfielders Eva Van Deursen and Alexia Delgado. Van Deursen finished with the third highest minute total last year and seems like a prime contender to replace the six assists from now-Liverpool player Jemma Purfield. Delgado got a taste of international play this summer with the Mexican women’s national team and got to face the eventually Women’s World Cup winners in the United States.
The other big question marks for 2019, is the Sun Devils’ backline. Defenders Madison Wolf and Angela Boyle led the team in minutes, the only two above Van Deursen. The pair have now graduated leaving two huge spots to fill. Starting goalkeeper Nikki Panas also transferred to Oklahoma.
Fortunately for ASU, redshirt senior Sydney Day, who started five games between the posts last season came back to pursue her Master’s degree and used her last year of eligibility. Outside of Day, there are three freshmen keepers who haven’t seen the field. Amanda Green was the only one with the program last season as she redshirted.
The Pac-12 is once again stacked with three teams inside the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll top five (Stanford, UCLA, USC) and six others receiving votes (Arizona, Utah, Washington State, Colorado, Cal) including ASU. It’ll be an uphill climb to get back to the postseason with a non-conference schedule that includes No. 24 LSU as well. Although, Winkworth seems to have brought the talent to make it happen on the pitch.