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ASU ends Arizona soccer’s five-game unbeaten streak

The Wildcats scored two goals, but they couldn’t stop the Sun Devils in the second half.

Arizona soccer celebrates its first goal against ASU on Nov. 4, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

TEMPE—The superstitions didn’t work. Arizona soccer players spent all week refusing to use forks, but they weren’t able to stop Arizona State on Friday evening. The Sun Devils ended a seven-year drought by defeating the Wildcats 3-2. In the process, they also ended Arizona’s five-game unbeaten streak and put its NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy.

ASU got the scoring started with a goal by Keri Matthews off an assist from Olivia Nguyen in the 24th minute, but UA struck back on a Sun Devil own goal in the 43rd minute when Megan Chelf played it into the box and ASU’s Nicole Douglas headed it into the net while trying to clear it.

The teams went into the locker rooms tied, but Arizona grabbed the lead shortly after coming back out. Nyota Katembo scored her first goal as a Wildcat in her first game back from injury. She had not played since Sept. 29 when Arizona faced Stanford.

As the half wore on, though, the Sun Devils began getting more and more dangerous. They had several shots that Arizona was just able to clear or save. They finally broke through in the 52nd minute, tying the game on a goal by Eva Deursen.

“I think they regrouped at halftime really well, so I give a lot of credit to the coaches and the players coming out with their mindset in the second half,” said Arizona head coach Becca Moros. “I think we got a little bit rattled and had trouble settling down. They changed their formation, and I think that really worked for them. They came out in a high press in the second half, as well, which reduced the amount of time we had to play make and it was a pretty drastic difference from the first half.”

It looked like ASU had taken the lead in the 66th minute, but a foul was called on Matthews before the shot. The Sun Devils’ bench earned a yellow card for arguing the call. It was the third yellow card for ASU and the fourth of the game.

ASU finally got one to go in the 79th minute. Lucy Johnson scored what would be the winning goal, ending the Wildcats’ seven years of dominance over the Sun Devils. The three goals scored in the match were more than ASU had scored in the previous seven.

Arizona now must wait and see if it has done enough to get into the NCAA Tournament field. The loss dropped them into a tie with ASU in the conference standings. Both teams are in fifth with 16 points and identical records of 5-5-1, but the head-to-head win may weigh heavily in the Sun Devils’ favor if the committee opts to take only one of the two. Arizona entered the match No. 41 in the RPI and ended with a regular season record of 8-7-3.

Most of the Wildcats will join together on Monday, Nov. 7 to watch the selection show and see if they got into the field of 64. The bracket will be announced at 12:30 p.m. MST. It will consist of 31 automatic qualifiers and 33 at-large teams.

“We have some players with classes and so I know they’d love to have dean’s excuses for the selection show,” Moros joked. “We’d like them to go to class.”