After a two-year hiatus, ASU men's club lacrosse is back on the quest to a national championship with a 7-4 record. In his first season as head coach, Justin Straker is helping the team accomplish its goals.
The goals of the team have shifted over the course of the season. ASU men's lacrosse is a young team without much college-playing experience and is getting better every day.
"The team was very process driven," Straker said. "We talked about being 1% better on a day-to-day basis."
Straker's dedication to the program comes from years spent with the team. Straker played on the lacrosse team and graduated from ASU in 2014 when he became a graduate assistant with the team.
When he returned in 2017 as an offense coach, Straker's staff was mostly ASU alumni.
"They really care about this team, and you can see how much it means to them each and every day," senior Charles Messman said.
The Sun Devils started off the season at 4-0 before dropping its next three games. However, they were not disheartened by the losses, instead they are committed to putting effort into creating the most successful outcome for the team.
"At the end of the day, we still control our own destiny this season," Messman said.
With the talent pool on the team, they have moved toward focusing on a much bigger goal: the national championship.
"We really see the talent and the skill that we have, and it has allowed us to turn our focus to be a little bit more results driven," Straker said.
The Sun Devils have 20 freshmen on its roster and the upperclassmen have little-to-no college game experience. Straker and his staff focused on developing players and getting everyone into competition shape.
"It's been a learning experience for a lot of our guys in terms of competing at a very high level for a long period of time," Straker said.
Straker has worked with the team to create a strong culture that mirrors family. The last two years without competing has left a hole in the program where the culture once was. The current team has had the opportunity to build the atmosphere they want to see.
"We want a group that buys in and really maintains the three pillars of our culture which is discipline, accountability and communication," Straker said.
One of the top priorities among the players is having fun. Junior Cruise Costin has watched the team work through early season struggles like getting to know everyone's playing style and now everyone is able to enjoy every second spent together.
"We're always having fun cheering each other on," Costin said. "And of course, talking crap to each other every once in a while to make sure everybody's on top of their game."
The Sun Devils look to finish the season on a high note against conference foes GCU and Arizona on April 9 and 16, respectively.
Kathryn Field is a sports editor at The State Press. Kathryn has previously worked as a full time reporter at The State Press, covering women’s basketball and lacrosse.