The breakout star fueling Arizona State’s hot start in 2021

In her first two seasons at Arizona State University, Olivia Nguyen played in 25 matches, starting one, and had zero goals and assists. Now, as a junior in 2021, she has started all ten matches and has burst on the scene with four goals and four assists, also picking up a Pac-12 Player of the Week honor in February.

“It was extremely special to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week,” Nguyen told BGN. “It was a surreal few weeks from scoring my first collegiate goal to being named Pac-12 Player of the Week. I really couldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my teammates. I think this season we have found our style of play and are starting to hit our stride.”

Hitting their stride is an understatement for ASU’s season thus far. With a big boost from Nguyen, the Sun Devils are off to a spectacular 7-1-2 start, including sweeping UCLA and USC for the first time in program history. “I think that one of the biggest keys to our success thus far in the season is how much our team has grown off the field,” Nguyen explained. “Building a foundation for our team culture to grow is something that we worked on during the summer and the fall and seeing all that work pay off on the field has been amazing. Another thing that has really helped us is taking each game one by one. To not get too high on the wins or too low on the losses but to learn from each game and implement what we did well and what we need to improve on into the next game.

“I think that this team has the potential to not only make it to the postseason tournament but to advance within the tournament.”

Nguyen said she’s grown to really enjoy playing on the wing this NCAA season. “It has given me a new way to look at the game and has challenged me to go forward and take players on 1v1 and I have been loving the challenge so far,” she explained.  Olivia added that one of her favorite players to watch recently has been USWNT star Crystal Dunn. “She is so aggressive and her workrate is unmatched,” Nguyen said.

Over the weekend, she picked up an assist on the late-winner for the Sun Devils in their huge upset victory vs. UCLA, the team’s first vs. the Bruins since 2000.

An extra benefit of Olivia’s success is that it comes with her hometown team. The Tempe native said, “Staying close to home was something that was very important for me when I was looking at schools. I did not think I would end up this close to home, but I love it.”

“My family and friends are able to come to not only all of my home games but a lot of my away games as well.”

She listed the best three things about Tempe and Arizona as the beautiful hiking trails and outdoor activities, the sunsets, and the diverse cuisine. When it comes to that cuisine, Nguyen has you covered on the spots you need to check out while you’re in town. “If someone comes to visit Tempe they would take them to Morning Squeeze for a fantastic breakfast and Poke Wave if they like poke bowls or Culinary Dropout for some great food and a fun atmosphere,” she said.

On the student side of being a student-athlete, Olivia has chosen to major in Biological Studies with a minor in Sustainability. Explaining that choice, she said, “I have always loved my science classes growing up and I really enjoyed the research and lab portions of my classes. I love the problem solving nature of science of posing a question, conducting an experiment, interpreting the results and what it really means.”

“Right now, my dream job would be to become a professor. I think teaching would be super fun as I have had some really great professors and I would be able to conduct research as well.”

The next problem to solve for Olivia Nguyen and Arizona State will be the Cal Golden Bears on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 PM MST and can be streamed here live.


Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.