ASU Soccer: ASU Ends Season with Loss in Territorial Cup

Sep 3, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs during the first half against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs during the first half against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

The journey ended for Lucy Lara, McKenzie Grossman, Larisa Staub and Annie Warren in a way that will always give them a sour taste in their mouth when they hear the words “U of A.”

In the final game of the season, Arizona State took a heartbreaking loss in the Territorial Cup to the school down south 1-0. ASU finished the season with a 6-11-2 overall record with a 1-9-1 record in Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils ended the year with a six game losing streak.

In the 65th minute, after a beautiful clearance from freshman defensemen Devyn Kelsey, that saved a goal, the Wildcats were giving a corner. U of A took advantage of the opportunity giving. Junior middy Cali Crisler crossed one beautifully onto the head of freshman defender Samantha Falasco who placed it in the back of the net for the lone goal of the day.

ASU went full attack in those final moments of the season, trying to do everything they can to draw things up. Their aggressive play paid off. With ten seconds left, Arizona State was giving a corner. One last chance to end the season with a magical moment against a team that they have dominated historically. With the PA announcer counting down from ten, senior midfielder Lara crossed it one last time. The ball sailed into box, but failed to find contact with anyone.

The ball trickled out of bounds. The ref blew the whistle. The season was over.

This was just another frustrating game that perfectly sums up the Sun Devils’ entire season. ASU had outplayed Arizona in the first half. They outshot U of A (7 to 5) and had more corner kicks (2 to 1). The only statistical category that both teams tied in was the amount of goals scored.

The Sun Devils had golden opportunities throughout the game, but just simply failed to take advantage of them. In the 31st minute, Natalie Stephens squeezed a beautiful chip through ball to forward Jessica Raybe. Raybe was one-on-one with the keeper. If she shoots it to the left or right side, Raybe scores the Sun Devils’ first goal since October 9th (own goals don’t count). Instead, Raybe shoots it right at U of A keeper Lainey Burdett.

In the 42 min, things just became flat-out frustrating. Senior Lucy Lara ripped a 35 yard shot that was punished by the left post. A scene that Sun Devil fans have watched over and over again this entire year.

Raybe would be presented one more one-on-one moment in the 78th minute. Opportunities that rarely come when losing in the final minutes of the game. Kelsey crossed it beautifully from across the pitch that landed perfectly on the foot of Raybe. Instead of settling the ball and then taking a shot, Raybe got nervous and took a weak attempt that once again landed into the hands of the keeper.

ASU head coach Kevin Boyd talked about his disappointment and emphasized how this is something fans have seen all year long. “This is something that has ailed us all year long. We created chances and just didn’t put them away,” Boyd said. “Looking at that game, who had the best chances? Again it was us and we didn’t score a goal. Your not gonna win if you don’t score a goal.”

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For the seniors listed in the beginning of this article, it was their last game as a Sun Devil. A program that each player invested countless hours and timeless effort into these last four years.

One particular player had a tough time with the reality that their ASU career coming to an end. Immediately after the game, Lara was crying with her head down on the pitch for multiple minutes. She couldn’t believe that it was all over. “I feel like a year ago I was a freshman,” Lara said. “I’m just overwhelmed with emotions because it’s my last game.”

“The growth that she’s shown in her game and as a person has been outstanding and truly a pleasure to be apart of,” Boyd said on Lara.

With her eyes still watery from emotions, Lara explained how she will miss her ASU teammates the most. “I’ve met my best friends here. I’ve met my little sisters here. I’ve the best people,” Lara said. “That’s what I’m gonna miss the most is them.”

Captain McKenzie Grossman was also in shock that her collegiate career was done. “Four years does go back fast,” Grossman said. “Everyone always says that they’re the best years of your life, and they’re not kidding.”

Grossman praised her teammates and is expecting big improvements next season after many of the young players who were able to gain some experience this year. “I think this was a rebuilding year,” Grossman said. “I think next year they’re gonna make a huge leap.”

Many of the younger members of the squad played due to the injuries of key players. Junior forwards Jazmarie Mader, Aly Moon and Lara all missed timed due to injuries. The last game all three players played together was against UCLA. That was on September 22, the first Pac-12 game of the season.

Boyd believes that many of his younger players have developed will make a big impact on the squad next season. “One thing I think we do really well in this program is we develop our players,” Boyd said. “You can look on the field today and see some of our young ones and say that in one year she’s gonna be really good and in two years she’s gonna be amazing.”

Next: ASU MBB: Exhibition Takeaways

With hope and health being the two key words heading into next season, ASU soccer fans will have to just sit and wait until August when they do this all over again.