(Photo: Liesl Babicka/WCSN)
No. 8 Arizona State had just taken a 5-3 lead against No. 21 University of Arizona in the middle of the third quarter. Junior faceoff specialist Trevor Driscoll strolled on the field and the 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound sophomore from Las Vegas would take the ensuing faceoff in perfect timing with the whistle, scoop up the groundball and slam a shot off the inside corner pipe of the net.
“A lot of the times when I come bring the ball down I can see whether I’m able to shoot or not,” Driscoll said. “That one I didn’t scoop up till late, by the time I scooped it up and had control of the ball I was already in the box so I was like I’m just going to wind up and shoot it. It went right to the corner, right where I wanted it too.”
Arizona State would go on to defeat University of Arizona 14-6. This win would conclude the Sun Devils regular season with an 8-5 record, and secure the second seed in the SLC tournament. Driscoll would finish the game going 17/22 in faceoffs, a goal and an assist.
“Going forward was open a lot more than it has been in previous games,” Driscoll said. “I think our wings were playing really well. It was just a matter of knowing what we could do at the right time and being able to push it forward in those circumstances.”
Driscoll finished the regular season with a faceoff win percentage of 60%, 2 goals, and 3 assists. After splitting playing time with 2016 Third Team All-American faceoff specialist junior captain Zac Mathien last year, Driscoll has taken the bulk of the face offs for the Sun Devils in 2017. This season Mathien has been primary playing defensive midfield and faceoff wing for the Sun Devils.
Driscoll talked about going up against Mathein every practice.
“Its invaluable. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s very fast.” Driscoll said. “We both have a lot of experience facing off so it helps you know were able to help each other, were able to move along, it just helps that he’s one of the best athletes on the team so that’s why he’s been focusing more on taking the middie role.”
“I mean it’s awesome we both push each other every day and try to make eachother better everyday,” Mathien said. “I’m hoping to push him everyday so he can keep it the rest of the season.”
When it comes to faceoffs, Arizona State has a history of success in developing skilled specialists. Mathien won 161 out of the 240 faceoffs he took in 2016. In 2015, Zack Handy was victorious in 229 out of the 324 faceoffs he took.
Driscoll has continued with the winning trend and head coach Todd MacRobbie has observed this fully.
“Sometimes with Trevor it’s just himself that gets in his way, he anticipates and jumps. There’s not a guy really out there that he has trouble going against,” MacRobbie said. “With this team the most important thing is them you know having the confidence in themselves, when they try to do to much and not play with in the system they get in trouble. When they do what they’re coached and execute they do well.”
The success of the faceoff game is something MacRobbie takes pride in as well.
“I think we have had a great history of faceoff guys here so that’s always been a good thing for us,” said Head Coach Todd MacRobbie. “Anytime you can score and then get the ball back is a benefit.”
At a position regarded as one of the most crucial for gaining offensive possessions look for Driscoll to impact the Sun Devils postseason.
“We got to keep the rhythm going. We’ve been up and down all season,” said Driscoll. “We have had really good games, then come back completely flat. We just got to build off this (win over Arizona), and continue to build.”