(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
The No. 10 Arizona State Sun Devils head to Carlsbad, California to face the No. 1 Chapman Panthers with an opportunity to play in the SLC Championship.
“Every time we play Chapman, it is a very competitive game, a very feisty game,” senior midfielder Henry Archie said. “We really look forward to this week. We call it ‘Chapman Week’ because that’s what we see as, our biggest rivalry in the MCLA is the ASU/Chapman rivalry. That started when I was a freshman and it has been growing ever since.”
Chapman maintains a perfect record of 16-0 (5-0 SLC North) entering Friday’s battle with ASU. The Panthers have scored 240 goals on the year, which leads the entire SLC.
“I think the best way to not give them touches is for us to play good offense,” ASU head coach Todd MacRobbie said. “If we’re playing good possession offense and not turning the ball over, that’s our best defense.”
Also, MacRobbie is not worried about rankings entering into this matchup.
“I don’t think it matters what their ranking is,” MacRobbie said. “I know we’re going to go out there and do the same thing: play our game, and respect them like they’re a good opponent.”
Meanwhile, though ASU currently holds a 6-5 record, the Sun Devils have been on a hot streak as of late, winning five of their last six while outscoring opponents 73-31.
Much of that has been due to the emergence of freshman goalkeeper Johnny Perlite, who will likely start in goal for ASU on Friday night against the Panthers.
“I think with him, he’s just got to stay loose and play athletic like he is,” MacRobbie said. “He’s a very athletic young man and I think if he does the right things, he does them really well.”
Perlite said it is all about staying confident for Friday’s tilt.
“We know what we can do and we’re a good team like them, so we can play with them,” Perlite said. “We’re not worried at all.”
For Perlite, this will be his first time playing for the opportunity to compete in the SLC championship title.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Perlite said. “It’s a big game. I know all the seniors are excited about this tournament and what it means to them, so it would be great to win this game.”
Perlite said he just has to see the ball on Friday in order to play well against Chapman.
“I know I can play with these guys and our whole team can play with these guys,” Perlite said. “We’ve just got to be competitive and our defense has to stand on its head like I know they’ve always been.”
MacRobbie mentioned one challenge Chapman presents ASU’s offense with is their play of great individual defense.
“It’s just matter of us protecting our sticks, doing things right when we have the ball. Don’t hold the ball too long, get it moving and make them move,” MacRobbie said.
The last time the Sun Devils and the Panthers met, ASU pulled out a close 8-7 road win in Orange County.
MacRobbie said the keys to a Sun Devil victory on Friday are no turnovers, three or fewer penalties and a high shooting percentage.
Archie spoke for he and his fellow seniors, this is the last opportunity to make a run at the SLC title for them.
“We’ve got a very strong senior class all the way across the MCLA, a lot of kids that can play, especially in the SLC,” Archie said. “We’re looking forward to putting our names on the line and leaving a mark for our senior class at ASU.”
ASU goes up against Chapman this Friday with face-off set for 4:30 p.m. The winner will match up for the SLC title against either No. 4 Grand Canyon or No. 12 UCSB.