Nicole Douglas led the Sun Devils in goals her freshman season. Despite her team’s four goals on Thursday, she didn’t find the back of the net. In Arizona State’s (2-0) home opener, the English forward gave the Tempe crowd a show.
Douglas finished the contest with a hat trick, guiding the Sun Devils to a 7-1 win over Central Arkansas (0-1). The Sun Devils faced an early deficit, however, Douglas erased it and put them in the lead for good.
The pressure for most of the game came on the left side of the pitch. Each of her first two goals came from that way after she cut across from the boundary.
“We saw a weakness in their defensive line, especially on that side,” Douglas said. “We took advantage of that. With the players we have on that side, we have quick players, technical players that are able to beat them.”
The final notch on the belt to complete the hat trick started from a penalty. In the second half, forward Marleen Schimmer weaved her way into the box in before drawing a foul. Douglas took the ball on the spot, her initial strike bounced back off the crossbar. Douglas’ second effort had a collision between her and Bears goalkeeper Elizabeth Lewis, the ball squeaked away from Lewis for the score.
“I told her she needed to put a couple away this weekend because she didn’t get any on Thursday night,” Head Coach Graham Winkworth said. “It didn’t take her too long....I was proud for her to get a hat trick, although she tried making it difficult for that third one.”
Midfielder Eva Van Deursen also had an excellent performance for Winkworth. The sophomore from the Netherlands assisted on one of Douglas’ goals, as well as the shot from Nicole Soto that extended the lead to 3-1. Van Deursen created her own scoring chance by lifting a long shot into the net.
“Eva has been very consistent,” said Winkworth of Van Deursen. “She’s working hard on improving her defensive side of the game. In possession of the ball, she switches the point very, very well. She’s getting goals from the midfield now, which was something that was lacking last season. That’s something we wanted her to add to the game. Her role has really enabled her to make those late runs..and it’s giving her opportunities to score.”
The backline of the Sun Devils caused concerns coming into the season. Through two games, ASU has only conceded two goals. True freshman goalkeeper Giulia Cascapera made a mistake that led to Central Arkansas’ lone goal. Winkworth mentioned she owned up to that, and outside of that lapse, he’s been happy with their performance.
“I’m really pleased with them,” he said. “We’re very young. The two centre-backs that are starting are both freshman (Lieske Carleer and Callie Darst). The goalkeeper is a freshman. Both fullbacks tonight are both seniors, brand new to their positions. They’re very inexperienced at the collegiate level, but they’re playing very well.”
The Sun Devils stay in Tempe for their Friday matchup with Tennessee Tech at 7:00 p.m.