(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
No. 12 Arizona State University will take on No. 4 Grand Canyon University this Friday April 1 at ASU West Campus at 7:00 p.m.
In a game like this that features two extremely talented and well-coached teams it’s especially difficult to determine how the game will play out. The only constant and unbiased way to predict a game is through the use of statistics and other information.
So let’s take a look at both teams by the numbers.
Arizona State has recorded 42 goals this season while GCU has more than twice as many with 105.
While ASU has played in three less games than the Lopes, GCU has had far more success finding the back of the net and accounting for the massive scoring difference between the two teams, but could still mean serious trouble for ASU.
Also, GCU has 70 assists, which means that about 66.7 percent of their goals come from help while ASU has 16, which is good for only 38 percent of their goals coming from assists.
Grand Canyons’s ability to pass the ball effectively and putting itself in more positions to score will give the Lopes the advantage against an ASU offense that hasn’t been able to find the same success.
GCU’s leading scorer and assist leader is junior attackman Joe Balestrerie who comes into the game with 30 goals and 15 assists. The Sun Devils also have a junior attackman leading the team in scoring in Rhett Rodgers with 11 goals, while Sophomore midfielder Tommy Carasco leads the team with six assists.
ASU doesn’t have a dominant scorer and facilitator like Balestrerie to drive their offense and that could prove to be a huge difference maker in this game.
Advantage – GCU
Arizona State junior goalie Russell Bartle has been a bright spot for ASU on defense. The High Point University-transfer has only conceded 24 goals allowed through five games and made 53 saves to go along with a 68.8 save percentage.
GCU’s Brandon Suchand has allowed 69 goals but has also made 95 saves with a 57.9 save percentage. Suchand has played eight games to Bartle’s five, so that does inflate his goals allowed and saves, but has also allowed about eight goals per game while Bartle only allowed about five a game.
ASU’s defense has been their strong point this season and that has been demonstrated through Bartle’s solid performance in front of the net this year.
ASU must use their defensive ability to control the pace and not allow GCU to find the same offensive success it’s had in their previous games.
Advantage – ASU
ASU’s sophomore faceoff specialist Zac Mathien and freshman Trevor Driscoll have combined to win 55 faceoffs this season. Those wins came on 85 chances giving the Sun Devils a win percentage of 64.7.
GCU has used graduate and 2015 All-American Ron Hamwey primarily for faceoffs this year and has a surprising record of 65-66. Being hampered with a lingering injury and working a full-time job, along with being a full-time student, one can see why his win percentage has dropped.
But, Hamway is coming off his best game of the season winning 12 of 16 facoffs against former No. 3 BYU, earning him MCLA Division I Commanding Performance of the Week.
The Lopes have had six other players involved in faceoffs this year. They’ve combined for only 89 wins out of 193 chances for a faceoff win percentage of only 46.1.
The Sun Devils have found much more success with faceoffs this season than GCU and that could potentially shift the game in the Sun Devil’s favor if they are able to control the game by winning faceoffs and turning them into effective offensive possessions.
Advantage – ASU
While ASU “won” two of the three categories they also come into this game with three straight losses while GCU has three straight wins. All of ASU’s losses came against Top 10 teams and two of GCU’s last three wins, were against Top 25 teams.
Both teams are filled with talented players and they both have played stiff competition this year. However, if you look at the numbers ASU has a good chance to turn its season around and get a win over a top five opponent.
If you want to reach Ethan, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @EthanGaines23.