Junior Olivia Nguyen has capitalized on her new role for Arizona State soccer (4-0-0). After she saw the pitch in just a handful of opportunities for the Sun Devils in her first two seasons, she has had a big part of the Sun Devils hot start in 2021.
On Sunday, she had a hand in two of Arizona State’s goals in its 4-0 win over GCU (0-4-0). In a wacky set of events that saw the ball float over the goal, Nguyen started her team’s dominant second half.
She found her third goal of the season in the 49th minute to extend Arizona State’s lead to two. Nguyen made an even better play later on as she opened up the right side of the field before she delivered a beautiful cross to her running teammate Olive Jones, who put the ball in for a header score.
Nguyen was later credited with another goal after Jazmine Wilkinson put one on the bar on a header.
THAT HEADER OMG OLIVE— Sun Devil Soccer (@SunDevilSoccer) February 15, 2021
Olivia » Olive pic.twitter.com/myZ4zRlUsE
“It feels awesome,” said Nguyen on her current form. “To score and get assists for your teammates is why we play. In the last few games we’ve had a lot of opportunities, a lot of shots, but not as many as we wanted to convert so finally seeing the end result feels really good.”
For most of the first half, Graham Winkworth’s team created a lot of pressure on the Lopes’ backline, but without much to show for it. Arizona State’s Nicole Douglas and Vildan Kardesler had good looks that bounced off the crossbar and post.
The team finally broke though at the end of the first half. A quick throw to Lieske Carleer started a build up for the defender to fire in a low ball into the box that worked its way to Isabel Dehakiz. She had a clean look on the far side and put the Sun Devils on the board.
“I think it was a great momentum, and to score right at the end basically it was kind of like yeah we got this, we can do more for this and just everyone trusting in each other,” Dehakiz said. “But I think it just led us with a good mindset going into the half and second half we came out firing.”
ASU also kept a clean sheet against GCU. Giulia Cascapera had a pretty easy day in the net, as GCU only had six shots without putting one on goal.
Next up for the Sun Devils are two games of the top programs in the country in USC and Washington State. The Trojans will travel to Tempe on Feb. 26 to start conference play.
Winkworth is happy with the fast start, but knows that the bar needs to be raised for Pac-12 play.
“It’s just a completely different game when you play that sort of standard,” he said. “I’m interested to see our players and if we can reach the same type of numbers, can we perform at the same sort of levels and the same set of standards when you’re challenging yourself against the best young players in the world.”