Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 -- 2018 was a bounce back year for the Arizona State University Women's Soccer team who recorded double-digit wins.
Head coach Graham Winkworth enters his third year at the helm and he has been able to recruit a very talented team what is loaded with players who have international experience.
Last year, the Devils just missed out on making the NCAA Tournament, but with 19-returning players, the Devils will be looking to make their first postseason trip since 2014.
The Arizona Soccer Association (ASA) had a chance to talk to Winkworth about the upcoming season.
ASA: On expectations for the season...
WINKWORTH: "Expectations are to be better this season than we were last season. We improved our ranking from 147 in the last two years to 42. We want to continue to improve that and if we do we will be in the conversation for the NCAA tournament. We want to continue to get better every year and every day."
ASA: On your returning and new players...
WINKWORTH: "If we start from the front we will be returning both Dougie [Nicole Douglas] and Shimmy [Marleen Schimmer]. They are very dangerous. They have national team experience, they are growing, and have been developing as players over the last 12 months and they have also gotten used to playing with one another. They are very dangerous together up top and they're still only sophomores, so it's very exciting. In the midfield, returning players some of the key ones, Alexia Delgado, she was playing on ESPN right before the World Cup against the United States in one of the United States' pre-World Cup games, so it's always nice to have a full national team player. She's technically one of the best players in the country. She's phenomenal with her feet. Eva Van Deursen is a Dutch U-23 international. Very talented, great brain, and very experienced. Those two are both sophomores as well. Kylie Miniefield is our caption, a senior, she does the simple things very well. She's a great leader, she's extremely fit, and can run all day. Can do all the grinding that doesn't get much recognition as some of the more attractive things in the game, but just as equally important. A great leader Another young lady that is standing out is a young sophomore, Isabel Dehakiz. She is like having a new signing. She was a solid enough player last year, but she has worked so hard in the offseason to get herself into much better physical shape that it is like having a new player and she's playing very well right now. The backline is looking very different than in the past. Lorato Sargeant is a transfer from Virginia. She can play forward or she can play back. We're not really sure what her best position is right yet. She has been here for a couple of weeks, but a very athletic young lady who has made an immediate impact. Returning wise, Tina [Christina] Edwards and Olive Jones are important players out of the back for us, Lieske Carleer, is a Dutch U-19 international. She arrived late to preseason because she was in the European Championships but she is going to be one of the best central defenders in the county. She is a phenomenal player and an extremely intelligent center back and has made an immediate impact in the weeks she has been here. Callie Darst, another freshman this time from Hamilton, Arizona. It's nice having a local talent who we were able to pick up locally. She was brought in as a forward or a midfield player and she moved to the back and has worked hard as anybody in the offseason to make sure she is physically fit. She's quick, she's talented. and she's comfortable with the ball on her feet. She will be an immediate impact player. Nicole Soto another defender with national team experience from Mexico. In the goal, we return Amanda Green and Sydney Day. Good to have Sydney back for her fifth-year senior and Amanda will be a redshirt freshman. We have added two more freshmen in Ashley Croyle and Giulia Cascapera. Both freshman and they will also fight for that number one jersey. We have other great players as well. It just shows we are in a much deeper position than we were last year. And having everybody here for preseason, unlike last year where they were in World Cups and other tournaments has been great. We have been able to work on improving our style of play from day one which is something we weren't able to do last year. I feel like we are ahead of where we were last year on August the 20th of last year."
ASA: On turning the program around in short time...
WINKWORTH: "Something that the whole athletic department is focused on is creating the right culture. We wanted to create a culture of professionalism of young ladies that just coming to Arizona State and coming to the Pac 12 isn't enough. We want people that want to win at that level. We needed to make the returning players have that type of mentality. We have been able to do that and the culture now within these girls is fantastic. They are very close, they're like a family. We went and sang karaoke the other night. They are a good bunch of girls. They really get along. But just begin apart of Arizona State soccer isn't enough anymore. We are here to try to win as many games as possible. You will see that we have improved from 2017 to 2018 and also every year we have been here we have managed to improve the program and that will continue all the way through. We had a massive recruiting class last year and by the time those girls are seniors in two years from now, our team will be extremely gifted. We will be very blessed with the squad we will have by then. Fortunately, now these girls that are here right now are paving the way for that to happen and I'm hoping we are able to obtain the goals these girls are setting because I'd love to send our senior class out on a high they really do deserve for all the efforts they have given us."