Fist pumps and bowed heads. Two of the most iconic poses that represent the emotion of sports. On Sunday, over the span of seven minutes, the players donned with white and maroon jerseys made each movement.
Unfortunately for Arizona State (5-1-0), it was on the wrong side of the rollercoaster on the pitch in Tempe. With Oklahoma’s (4-1-1) Ivanna Rivas 83rd-minute score, the Sooners dealt the losing hand to the Sun Devils for the first time all season.
Despite playing with the momentum in the second half, the mistakes in the first 45 minutes cost the Sun Devils.
“All credit to Oklahoma,” head coach Graham Winkworth said. “That first half they played a very deep line, they sat back, they hit us on the counterattack. They were very organized defensively. We didn’t do enough with the ball..It’s no good having all the ball if you’re not going to do anything with it.”
As Winkworth alluded to, the Sun Devils dominated possession, but had few near chances to show for it. The back line, which Winkworth asks to play higher up than a normal formation typically does, struggled to find those one or two passes that create a buildup for a goal.
“We were just passing back and forth in the back line, we weren’t successfully getting it to our forwards,” midfielder Kylie Miniefield said. “Possession is nice, but possession has to be lead to an attack, and we struggled to do that in the first half.
It didn’t help that Arizona State had to play catch up while battling frustration with closed up lanes. In the 19th minute, the Sooners reached down the right side of the field before they drew a foul just inside the box. Kaylee Dao put away her attempt from the spot to give the visitors an early lead.
Disappointed by the results in the first half, Winkworth changed to a ‘False Nine’ formation to centralize playmaker Marleen Schimmer more. The decision eventually panned out.
Schimmer dribbled through the right side to create enough space to send off a cross into the box. She sent it, and it was perfect. The laser screamed its way to the head of Nicole Douglas and into the back of the net for the equalizer.
“She’s a special player,” said Winkworth on Schimmer. “I’m not used to seeing (Douglas) score with her head. But like we were talking on the bench, I’m not sure if (Douglas) scored with her head or if (Schimmer) hit her with the ball on the head.”
Miniefield joked that if anyone else tried that cross they’d probably get an earful from coach. She made an emphasis that only Schimmer could’ve produced that ball.
It appeared the Sun Devils were on their way to either another overtime duel or finding the winner. However, a late press from the Sooners had the ball inch closer and closer for a goal. After a poor clearance — Winkworth didn’t understand why they let the ball bounce — Rivas sent it past Giulia Cascapera.
Arizona State will need to clear its heads before they head east for a two-game road trip to face Central Florida and LSU.
“Four weeks ago, I’d say average to above average, but you’re 5-0, 5-1 seems pretty bad,” said Winkworth on the season thus far. “We’re disappointed right now, but we will reflect in the morning and bounce back. It’s important that we don’t let 5-1 become 5-3.”