Stanford's Andi Sullivan makes up for lost time, named espnW player of week
Andi Sullivan made such good use of the rest of the month, it seems only fair that the final full week of October belonged to the Stanford All-American midfielder, too.
A week after she looked comfortable at the sport's highest level, twice excelling in what were her debut performances with the United States women's national team, Sullivan looked a little too good for college soccer. Or at least that portion of the college game that resides in Arizona.
Sullivan scored a total of four goals in Stanford's wins at Arizona and Arizona State this past week, more than enough to merit a place as the espnW soccer player of the week.
Far from exhibiting any fatigue after returning to Stanford following national team games in Utah and Minnesota, arriving back just in time to turn around and travel on the road trip, Sullivan put the Cardinal ahead to stay with the opening goal in a 4-0 win at Arizona. It was a strike that would have fit right in at the international level, Sullivan settling a pass with her first touch and then ripping a left-footed shot from just outside the box past the diving keeper. She later converted a penalty kick to expand the margin to a comfortable three goals.
She was back at the penalty spot early in the second half of a 2-1 win at Arizona State and broke a scoreless tie when she converted. Then, about two minutes after Arizona State came within inches of a goal on a corner kick and three minutes before an own goal by the Cardinal, Sullivan deftly steered a Kyra Caruso pass into the lower corner for her second goal.
Her four goals on the week were just two shy of her total in her first two college seasons.
Sullivan impressed with the national team as a holding midfielder, the same role she played her first two seasons at Stanford. U.S. coach Jill Ellis also talked about trying Sullivan as the kind of ball-playing center back that she feels the modern game demands. But her task at Stanford this season has been to play higher up the field and produce points more directly.
Despite missing two games, she ranks third in the Pac-12 with 10 goals (she's also tied for third in the conference with six assists). The Cardinal, in turn, are just one goal away from matching their total for the entirety of the 2015 season and control their own conference championship chances as the regular season concludes this weekend.
"I think it's a little bit more freedom to be in the attacking role and a little more creativity, which is fun," Sullivan said of the change. "It's a different part of the game. It's a challenge to me, from the last two years, when I've been in a very organizational role, a very defensive, distributing role. Now it's 'Can you add to that?'
"They're different disciplines. They require a lot of the same skills, but they are different roles."
No matter the role and no matter the team, Sullivan had an October to remember.