(Photo: Liesl Babicka/WCSN)
Our writers and broadcasters discuss how they see Arizona State midway through the season and starting up conference play in this roundtable discussion.
The Sun Devils made some smart changes including a different pregame warm-up, their young defense holding ground, limiting opponents’ opportunities to score on man-ups, and upperclassmen leaders became visible. Since winning against Colorado, ASU has only had one loss which came against Brigham Young. After that loss, Arizona State won their next four games. Instead of just giving up on the season and packing their bags, the team has been competing for a possible playoff spot. So far, they have looked impressive and can continue to improve their game. I expect to see nothing less in their final three games of the season.
Player to Watch: Tommy Carrasco
The Devils have a strong roster and everyone seems to be producing this season. My player to watch for the final three games of the season is junior midfielder Tommy Carrasco. Carrasco is on his way to scoring the most goals in one season for his career. This season he has scored 16 goals for the Devils, tying his record high of 16 goals last season. He also has 10 assists this season.
Just like the team, Carrasco had his own slow start, but made a turnaround against Colorado where he scored four goals. Since that game, Carrasco has earned himself a point in every game. He continues to work hard and be a difference maker on the field. Keep a watch for him because on this route he will score a handful of goals to finish off the season.
In the beginning of the season, ASU’s offense was inconsistent and had trouble finding its rhythm. As the season progressed, the offense has become more aggressive and it’s paid off – Arizona State has won five of its last six contests. Defensively, ASU has been stout throughout the entire season, averaging 8.5 goals against per game.
Player to Watch: The player that has impressed me the most is, without question, sophomore goalie Johnny Perlite. He has been the anchor on defense and a leader on the field. He averages an SLC South leading 13.8 saves per game and is second in the SLC South in save percentage with about 63%. Definitely look for him to continue to dominate.
While the Sun Devils returned their three starting attackmen from a year ago, they needed time early in 2017 to integrate new midfielders into their offense. Transfer sophomore Ben Parietti and freshman Emerson Roth have started clicking with returning juniors Tommy Carasco and Ryan Bradway in the midfield recently; over ASU’s first six games, the Sun Devils averaged just eight goals, however their last four games have seen ASU average 14 goals per game, sparking a four game winning streak.
Player to Watch: Kendall Griffin
The sophomore midfielder doesn’t light up the stat sheet, but the Arizona native lights up the field with his speed and ability in transition. Griffin, utilized in a more defensive role so far this season, has appeared in all ten games, collecting four ground balls and an assist. The six-foot two-inch Basha High School graduate is lightning quick and able to run the ball from ASU’s own end to the opponent’s box in a matter of seconds. While Griffin will probably stay quiet on the stat sheet, his impact on games is crucial and he could be an unsung hero for the Sun Devils down the stretch.
Entering the 2017 season the Sun Devils were heading into an extremely brutal schedule. Eight of their first 10 games were against teams ranked in the top 18 of the MCLA, and the Sun Devils still have three SLC conference games against No. 21 San Diego State, No. 3 Grand Canyon, and a rivalry game when they play the No. 20 University of Arizona Wildcats. With a challenging end to the regular season, it will be interesting to see if the Sun Devils are going to keep a hot streak heading into the SLC Conference tournament and the MCLA tournament. I think this demanding schedule from the start is why the Sun Devils have had a roller coaster of a season.
Player to Watch: A player who has really stood out to me is junior midfielder Ryan Bradway. The NJIT transfer is currently leading the team in assists with 11, and he has gotten progressively better as the season has gone on. In the first six games of the season Bradway scored just two goals, in the last four games he’s scored nine. I think the turning point of the Sun Devil season was when Bradway threw that behind the back assist to Marthens to beat Virginia Tech in OT. I think that’s what sparked their winning streak.
The Sun Devils got off to their season losing three of their first four games. ASU was inconsistent and it started to look like another disappointing season. Todd MacRobbie and his team have managed to turn this season around and are in good position to make a strong run in the post season. ASU has been considerably more aggressive and efficient in the back half of the season and they are currently riding a four-game winning streak. The Sun Devils is ranked No. 9 in the most recent Under Armour MCLA Coaches Poll and are at the top of the SLC South.
Player to Watch: My player to watch is Senior Attackman Rhett Rodgers. Throughout the early part of the season Rodgers was quiet to say the least. As of late, Rodgers has been the go-to man. He first caught fire against Colorado when he scored four goals in an 11-7 victory against the Buffaloes. His other highlight games have been against Utah Valley when he scored three goals, UNLV when he scored four goals and his highlight of the season was against Utah when he had five goals. Look for Rodgers to make more noise heading into the final stretch of the season.
ASU has been a bit slow starting at times. Goalie Johnny Perlite has been nothing short of spectacular this season backing up a group of talented, but young, defenders. Trevor Driscoll has also been stellar, giving ASU a strong faceoff game. The season seems to have taken a turn. It started off really slow, but the Colorado game seemed to be a real momentum builder for the Sun Devils. A win over Utah gives them another quality win on their road trip.
Player to Watch: To me this one is easy: sophomore attackman Jake Marthens. Marthens has posted multiple hat trick games and leads ASU with 23 goals. He has been an absolute standout in every game thus far and has shown no signs of slowing down.
ASU tends to give up the first goal of the game but never gets down about it. One thing to point out, however, is the team struggles with playing a full 60 minutes. Head coach Todd MacRobbie has touched on this issue already and is working on getting his team to that level. Sometimes the offense lets their foot off the gas and allows the opposing team to catch up. This was displayed in the UNLV match-up when the Sun Devils relied too heavily on their defense and the Rebels almost made an epic comeback scoring six goals in the last 11 minutes to only lose by one point.
When the offense is clicking, it is very potent. No matter who has the ball, the Sun Devils will find the back of the net when everyone is on the same page during the attack.
Arizona State men’s club lacrosse has been through it all this season, taking on tough ranked opponents decided by very close outcomes. The team sits at 6-4 but is now on a roll with four straight wins.The season has had its ups and downs but the Sun Devils are so young still and hold so much talent and potential going forward.
Player to Watch: Sophomore goalkeeper Johnny Perlite. This kid has a bright future with Arizona State men’s club lacrosse. Perlite is an absolute brick wall in net for the Sun Devils. He has a .629 save percentage and has been a big part of most of the team’s wins. Perlite has added an offensive element to his game as well. He helps the team transition from defense to offense through playing the field more on the breakout.
The tendencies I’ve seen, specifically offensively, have really changed during this recent string of wins that the squad has strung together. Early on in the season, the offensive attack was far more patient. At times, it was far too patient. They would make too many extra passes to the point where they would miss good scoring opportunities. Ever since the game against Colorado, the players have been far more trigger happy. You’ve got to shoot to score, and since they’ve changed that the goals have been coming in bunches. Defensively, they’ve been very solid. The young defense is showing that they are more mature than their age implies, and they’ve been exceptional at stopping penetration near the crease. The team is coming together and becoming a legitimate championship contender.
Player to Watch: Sophomore attackman Jake Marthens has been playing out of his mind the whole season. Early on, he provided a lot of the offensive firepower as senior attackman Rhett Rodgers was in a funk. Now that Rodgers firing on all cylinders again, Marthens is performing even better. He’s leading the team in goals and will be key to any D1 Championship run the Sun Devils make.