The ASU lacrosse season has started. The 2010 and 2011 national championship runner-up is off to a 4-0 start with wins over Cal, San Diego State, Cal-Poly, and Minnesota-Duluth all on the road.
The Cal-Poly and Minnesota wins came this past weekend winning 9-7 and 7-3 respectively. “I thought our hustle and our effort for the 60 minutes was good. We didn’t come out and execute but the effort was there,” said head coach Chris Malone. “I was proud of how we played in the fourth quarter in both games too.”
Life on the road can be tough. Unlike ASU-sponsored Division 1 teams, Lacrosse is a club sport at ASU and the Cal road trips cost money and are taken by bus. The team can’t even play in Tempe occasionally and will have to play at the Polytechnic campus this weekend. “You definitely don’t have the distractions. You’re more comfortable, you get to sleep in your own bed, you get to eat your own food,” Malone said. “I think it’s tough to win on the road and I’m proud of these guys for being able to win on the road. I think these guys are excited to be in their beds Thursday night and ready to play Friday.”
Friday night is a very big rivalry game against Chapman. The Sun Devils and the Panthers have had some close games over the past few years and Chapman comes into Tempe as the number nine team in the country this year and the Sun Devils are number two. “I like to think they’re gonna be focused,” Malone said. “This is a team we see two times a year … we’re gonna see them probably again but we’d like to go for the clean sweep, we’d like to make them 3-3.”
Chapman comes in 2-2 on the year and off a 15-3 win over UNLV. “They come in with a good attitude, they’re gonna be pretty verbal out there … we can’t let anybody else get inside our heads,” Malone said.
ASU has done a good job of that so far this season. Senior captain Payson Clark leads the team with 15 goals and 3.75 goals per game followed by junior Justin Straker with 14 goals averaging 3.5 goals per game.
There was a controversy in goal to start the season between sophomore Brandon Propp and freshman Preston Anderson. Although Coach Malone was unsure to begin the season, Anderson separated himself as the leader in goal over the weekend. “We talked to Brandon Saturday before the Cal-Poly game. Told him we we’re gonna go with Preston but be ready.”
I asked coach what it’s like consistently playing with a target on your back.
“That’s why I’m on these guys. We can’t take a step backwards ever we gotta go forwards. (It’s about) keeping these guys hungry, keeping them motivated and staying on top of them about the little things.”
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