ASU soccer falls to No. 1 Stanford, awaits NCAA Tournament fate Monday

The Arizona State Sun Devils sign autographs following

Arizona State soccer hung with No. 1 Stanford for a half Sunday before giving up three second-half goals in a 4-1 loss, leaving its NCAA Tournament hopes hanging in the wind overnight.

ASU second-year coach Graham Winkworth continues to insist the Sun Devils (10-7-1, 5-5-1 Pac-12) belong in the 64-team field, to be announced at 2:30 p.m. Monday. But with a ratings percentage index somewhere in the 40s, they could get passed over when at-large choices are made by the selection committee.

Picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12, ASU instead is tied for seventh with Washington State, one point behind fifth-place Colorado and Arizona. The Sun Devils beat Washington State 3-1, tied No. 21-ranked Colorado 1-1 and lost 1-0 to Arizona on Friday.

ASU last made the postseason in 2014 when star forward Cali Farquharson, now in the NWSL, was a junior. 

“I think it would be travesty if you take the 11th best team in the third stronger conference (SEC) and don’t take the seventh best team in the strongest conference,” Winkworth said. “That would be a real shame because we’ve demonstrated against the best teams that we’ve been in those matches. Even today, we’ve given Stanford a real run for 45 (minutes).”

ASU was without its full roster due to international assignments in four of its seven losses and had a match at Hawaii cancelled due to Hurricane Lane. Whether those mitigating circumstances help with the selection committee is an unknown, but the Sun Devils’ resume does include four competitive losses to top-10 teams – Stanford, No. 2 USC (3-1), No. 6 UCLA (3-1) and No. 9 Baylor (1-0). 

The Stanford match at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium was scoreless until a debatable foul on ASU midfielder Jemma Purfield in the 21st minute gave Jordan DiBiasi a free kick from just outside the box. The senior midfielder went high over ASU goalie Nikki Panas from 25 yards out for her eighth goal.

“I would admit if I didn’t think I got the ball,” Purfield said. “I thought it was a good tackle, but sometimes those go against you and we had to bounce back. I think we did, and we held our own all night.”

Winkworth thought ASU at least played even with the Cardinal (17-0-2, 10-0-1) in the first half. The Sun Devils had two qualify scoring chances, on a long drive by Marlene Schimmer that Stanford goalie Lauren Rood stopped and on an Olive Jones’ header off a Purfield corner kick.

“You didn’t know which team was No. 1 in that first half,” Winkworth said. “The second half, they just had too much for us. They’re the best team in the country, and I want to give a lot of credit to Stanford.”

The Cardinal scored twice early in the second half, first by DiBiasi in close off a feed from Civana Kuhlmann then by Belle Briede on a shot from inside the box into the far corner.

Purfield scored from just outside the box in the 56th minute, 43 seconds after Briede’s goal, to give ASU some life. But the Sun Devils could not draw closer, and Kuhlmann scored on a penalty kick for Stanford in the 71st minute after a foul by Olive Jones.

Stanford is unbeaten in 41 consecutive matches, the sixth-longest streak in NCAA history.

“When you look at players like (Jaye) Bossiere and DiBiasi, they’re world class,” Winkworth said. “I thought our girls hung in extremely well. I was really proud of their effort today.”

Stanford finished with a 19-8 edge in shots (7-3 on goal). For the second straight match, ASU leading scorer Nicole Douglas did not get off a shot although against Stanford she played more as a midfielder for defensive purposes. 

Winkworth said if ASU makes the NCAA Tournament that Douglas (nine goals and 21 points) will be back at center forward.

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