(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
Whether it was intentional or not, the huddle at the end of men’s lacrosse practice on Friday was a little closer than usual.
As they stretched, guys joked back and forth, keeping their muscles and their spirits loose. Sitting in the center, a few of the upperclassmen’s feet met in the middle while they worked their hamstring, using each other as both leverage and support.
They still have many games left in the season, but Saturday will be the last home game of the regular season, and possibly the last time the Sun Devil seniors take the field at ASU West.
Five seniors will be recognized on the field prior to the opening faceoff, but right now their focus is more on the end of the game.
“I’ve thought about for about two minutes,” senior Finn Wells said. “And then I just want to win. It’s a must win tomorrow, so all I’m thinking about is winning.”
Saturday’s game will launch a stretch of four games for the Devils in eight days. After that, the SLC and MCLA Tournaments still loom on the horizon. With all those minutes left to play, the finality of Saturday’s game dissolves for most players.
“I don’t think they need it to be their last home game for them to be motivated for tomorrow,” head coach Todd MacRobbie said. “They’re playing right now to have another home game. That’s what they need to do.”
Their regular season wraps up next weekend, but if the team finishes strong in SLC play, they could return to ASU West to host a quarterfinal game in the conference tournament. With that in mind, the team is fixated on beating conference foe UNLV.
“In the back of my mind, there is always that last senior game thing,” said senior team captain Henry Archie, “But at the same time we’re going to take it as we always have: one game at a time.”
In addition to Archie and Wells, team captain Connor Ebner, Adam Beauchamp and Mitchell Drake will all take the field 30 minutes early for a senior presentation. Though the class of 2016 is a smaller one, that fact has not diluted their ties to the program.
“It’s been my family,” Wells said. “These two hours on the field every day, I really love them. It’s my sanctuary; it’s where I get away from life. When I get on this field, it’s just lacrosse. It’s something I’ll really miss.”
While Wells was referencing the practice field in Tempe, Archie noted how the setup at ASU West Campus makes them feel at home.
“It’s a beautiful field,” Archie said. “It’s actually the first time in my life that I’ve played on a field that’s only lined for men’s lacrosse, so it feels like our field. Before it’s been a football field, and a lacrosse field, and a women’s lax and field hockey [field] – and that’s just the way it goes with sharing field space.
“But that is our field.”
The seniors hope to leave their mark on their field, as they defend their home against UNLV, Saturday at 1 p.m. For them, the significance of winning on Senior Day certainly does not overshadow the importance of the win itself.
However, while they’re ready to move forward and step out onto the field, there is a small sense of what they’ll be leaving behind.
“I don’t know what I would have done without ASU Lacrosse,” Archie said. “It’s given me 40 new best friends every year for four years, so it’s been a pleasure of my life.”