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ASU Soccer: No. 21 Sun Devils can’t overcome No. 17 LSU’s four first-half goals

Rough day on the defense

Zac BonDurant

Unlike previous matches, the Sun Devils did not have a slow start, just the opposite actually. However, after Olivia Nguyen scored the game’s first goal 37 seconds into the contest, No. 17 LSU (6-0-0) dominated the rest of Sunday’s top 25 matchup. The Tigers handed No. 21 Arizona State (5-1-0) its first loss of the season following a 5-2 result.

LSU took advantage of the young goalkeeper Birta Gudlaugs in net for the Sun Devils, and honestly a few good roles. Especially in the first half, Arizona State’s defense seemed to be lacking its usual chemistry.

The Tigers raced downed quickly to find the equalizer. Gudlaugs initially turned away the attack, but LSU kept on. Rammie Noel matched the effort of her teammate, Maddie Moreau, who sent in a perfect cross to Noel to score LSU’s first goal in the second minute.

Alesia Garcia’s goal in the ninth minute had a similar situation. Gudlaugs punched out a ball, it just didn’t have enough force. Garcia collected it and chipped it over the head of Gudlaugs.

Moreau led another chance down the left side in the 26th minute, and she certainly had some luck in her opportunity. Callie Darst and Lieske Carleer played it perfect, nevertheless the ball got through Darst’s legs on the pass and Athena Kuehn’s shot deflected off of Carleer for another goal.

LSU’s fourth goal came from Arizona State’s lack of communication. Gudlaugs stood in the box looking for someone to pass to and no one helped the young keeper. The Tigers attacked her and earned a corner kick. Lindsi Jennings flicked the cross in, hit the far post and found the back of the net to increase the lead to three.

Graham Winkworth made the change to Julia Ortega at halftime in net. The only ball past her in the second half was a penalty kick from Garcia. Gudlaugs has shown quality efforts and hopefully Sunday’s result will be a learning experience, but as Giulia Cascapera is out for the foreseeable future, one of the two freshman will need to step one with Pac-12 play on the horizon.

Arizona State only came away with one goal, but a lot of that had to due with the play of LSU keeper Mollie Swift. For 89 minutes, she stonewalled the Sun Devils. She made a great kick save on a chance from Cori Sullivan. Her best effort came in the 59th minute. Nguyen stole the ball, got it out wide to Olivia Douglas, who sent it the perfect pass to Olivia Kearse-Thomas in front of goal, but Swift made one of her eight saves.

The Sun Devils actually put more shots on goal (11-8). Eva van Deursen fired in a beautiful goal to get the Sun Devils to within three late in the second half. It simply wasn’t enough in the end.

The Sun Devils make the drive down to Tucson next week for a pair of games against Nebraska and Texas Tech.