ASU Soccer: Season-Ending Roundtable

Oct 15, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky during the fourth quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. The Buffaloes defeated theSun Devils 40-16. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky during the fourth quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. The Buffaloes defeated theSun Devils 40-16. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

With Arizona State’s disappointing season over, Gigi Micketti and Matt Stolbof discuss their takeaways from this season and the future of ASU soccer.

1. What was the biggest reason why ASU Soccer struggled this season?

Gigi: ASU really struggled with putting goals on the board this season, especially after losing key offensive players, Jazmarie Mader and Aly Moon, due to injuries early on in conference play. Teams can’t win games if they can’t score points, it’s as simple as that. They’ve played some great games this season, and in the last few matches they created numerous scoring opportunities thanks to the leadership of seniors Lucy Lara and Larisa Staub. Though some good looks were taken, many opportunities were missed and players just couldn’t seem to capitalize on opportunities in the box. Whether it was nerves or just bad looks, the Sun Devils just could not put any away in the back of the net and that brought about lack of confidence within the team, ultimately making this a rough season for the girls.

Matt: The biggest reason was a pretty blatant one for me. ASU just simply couldn’t score. The last time they scored and it wasn’t an own goal was October 9th! Yes I understand that Jazmarie Mader and Aly Moon were hurt during that stretch, but this just never seemed right ever since conference play started. The only player who really created a flow on offense was Lucy Lara. I felt that coach Kevin Boyd told his players to only take really good shots, which completely shut down the offense. It seemed like Lara and others were forcing shots in the box way too much when they could have easily taking a shot out of the box and possibly score or get a corner kick. If you can’t score goals, you’re not gonna win. Simple as that.

2. Which senior will leave the biggest hole heading into next season?

Gigi: Heading into next season, the biggest hole in the team will be the loss of senior defender Mckenzie Grossman. Grossman was the key player and leader of the Devils’ defense this year and was able to protect from some embarrassing losses the team could’ve seen from some of the higher ranked teams. She had a dominant presence that made opposing forwards think twice before they passed and rarely ever did she give up a turn from a forward. This presence on the defensive line is a tough shoe to fill because that kind of intimidation doesn’t come from an underclassmen player, that is the presence of an experienced athlete and will likely not be completely filled until defenders like freshman center-back Devyn Kelsey become older and more experienced.

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Matt: For me it’s Lucy Lara. Lara was really the only player who made somewhat of an impact on the offensive side as an attacking mid. It seemed that Lara was a part of every opportunity the Sun Devils had created, especially at the end of the season. Without her, there would have been even less flow in the offense. There could have been halves where Arizona State would have failed to even get a shot off, especially against tough teams like USC and Stanford. Now that she has graduated, ASU is gonna need someone to step up on the pitch, otherwise next season might have a similar script to this one.

3. Coach Boyd said that the team should not be young next season considering the amount of playing time the young players received this season. Which young player are looking most forward to see take the next step in her development?

Gigi: The young player I’m most excited to see take the next step is freshman forward Olivia Hernandez. Hernandez’s presence became well known during the Stanford game as she was able to create lots of movement up top for the Devils. The Sun Devils hadn’t been able to have that strong of pressure moving forward since the loss of Jazmarie Mader and needed a player like Hernandez to step up and get things moving for the team. Hernandez also had a great game against Arizona again creating a lot of forward momentum, giving the team a fighting chance for one of the few times this season. Though she was unable to get on the board in those games, she became a valuable asset to the team and a threat to the opposition. I’m excited to see how she progresses and grows in preparation for next season, and if she can get the minutes early on and start getting goals on the board in preseason, there’s a good chance next season will be her breakthrough year and put her on top as one of the team’s strongest offensive players.

Matt: I think junior Jazmarie Mader is gonna have a breakout season next year. We saw her potential in non-conference play when she scored in six straight games. ASU would have had a better ending to their season if she never got hurt. She’s fast, can create her own chances, and puts a nice touch on the ball when she shoots. She should have a nice recovery from her concussion in time for next season. The sky is truly the limit for her. If she can stay healthy next season, I believe that Mader will have an All Pac-12 type of season next year.

Next: ASU Soccer: ASU Ends Season with Loss in Territorial Cup