For 89 minutes, Arizona State felt disappointment behind most of its chances. The frustration quickly turned to jubilation. It only took one toe tap from Olivia Nguyen to change all of the Sun Devils fortunes on Sunday night.
Locked in a draw that appeared to be headed to overtime, Arizona State (2-0-0) put together one final attack before the end of regulation. Jazmine Wilkinson tried to corral a cross into the box, the ball continued to bounce off of her and roll straight to Nguyen. The Arizona product snuck it past Southeastern Louisiana goalkeeper Nadine Maher — the Sun Devils’ kryptonite after 14 saves — to secure the 2-1 win.
Nguyen was the only Sun Devil that scored against Southeastern Louisiana (0-2-0) despite her team’s 33 shots. In the 79th minute, she found the equalizer in a similar situation. Nicole Douglas barely missed putting her head on a Cori Sullivan cross, but the chance stayed alive for Arizona State. The ball landed at the feet of Nguyen and she sent in a beautiful finish after 29 unsuccessful attempts from the Sun Devils.
Arizona State is still searching for a consistent second scoring option behind Douglas. Nguyen enjoyed a breakout season in the spring, and Sunday night’s performance might ascend her to that spot. Douglas, who had nine shots (three on goal), couldn’t find the back of the net no matter how hard she tried. Some nights the ball hits the post, the keeper is on her game and the shotmaking is a bit off. That’s what made Nguyen’s two-goal night that much more important.
The Sun Devils dominated throughout the game, but even more so in the first half and had nothing to show for it. Presented with the opportunity to take the lead regardless of the fact it was outplayed, Southeastern Louisiana scored the game’s first goal right out of halftime on a strike from Ellie Williams in the 47th minute.
In the proceeding 10 minutes, Maher stood tall stopping a barrage of Arizona State shots. On two different occasions, Douglas weaved into the box without finding a goal. Callie Darst nearly found the game-winner before Nguyen on a header that Maher saved. It was an excellent night from her that probably deserved a better outcome.
Once again the pair of freshmen goalkeepers; Birta Gudlaugs and Julia Ortega split the duties in Giulia Cascapera’s absence. Each made a save, while Ortega surrendered the goal. Alexia Delgado made her season debut, however, it ended abruptly. Douglas and an assisted coach carried Delgado off following an injury on the side.
Arizona State leaves home next week. The Sun Devils will travel south to play Mississippi State on Thursday (5:00 p.m. MT) and UAB on Sunday (10:00 a.m. MT).