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ASU women's lacrosse prepares for inaugural season

The team will start its season on the road at Kennesaw State

lacrosse practice

ASU freshman midfielder Haley Gorke (8) shoots the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Berkeley Bonneau (00) during practice in Tempe, Arizona, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

ASU women's lacrosse is set to begin its inaugural season. It will face some adjustments in its first year of Division I play, but the Sun Devils will be led by an experienced head coach, Courtney Martinez Connor. 

“The coach in me says to win every game while the realist says to get better each and every game,” Martinez Connor said. 

As a player, Martinez Connor won multiple NCAA National Championships at the University of Maryland. Her prior coaching experience includes being the winningest lacrosse coach in Mount St. Mary's history, and she served as the head coach at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 2005 to 2009. She was also named the America East Coach of the Year in 2006.

In 2015, ASU announced that the University would be introducing women's lacrosse and women's triathlon. 

This addition was a result of a $32 million men’s ice hockey donation intended to bump the men’s hockey team from the club level to the NCAA Division I level. 

“Rocky Harris, Scotty Graham, Luke Powell, Ray Anderson ... were all a part of securing donors for ice hockey and part of that process was, 'hey, if we are gonna bring on ice hockey and make that from a club sport to elevate it to Division I, then we need to bring on a couple of women's sports,' and the donor was like, ‘sure whatever you guys need,'” Martinez Connor said. 

This lacrosse season marks a very significant milestone, not just for ASU, but for the conference as a whole. The Pac-12 is starting its first women's lacrosse season as a conference, and joins the ACC and Big 10 as the third Power Five conference to offer the sport.

The Sun Devils' season will start with six non-conference match ups before Pac-12 play. Then, the Sun Devils will play two games each against Colorado, California, Stanford, Oregon and USC.

“We want to be able to compete – we are in a tough conference even though it’s the first year of the Pac-12," Martinez Connor said. "It’s going to be a tough conference kind of like when the Big Ten first began. They started out as a dominant conference, and the Pac-12 isn’t going to be any different. We are going to be one of the top three conferences in the country, and that says a lot in your first year competing.”

Junior attack Kerri Clayton said the team is fine tuning before the regular season starts.

“We are working on just offensive sets... ,” Clayton said. “If they cover us in one area, we will be able to thrive in another so just working on the small details before our first game.”

“We just want to play our best and do the best we can do,” junior defender Rachel Gregory said. “We are stoked to show everybody this hard work we have been putting in.”

The Sun Devils' first game will be on Friday, Feb. 9 at 1:00 p.m. MST at Kennesaw State.

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