(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
The No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils will be the No. 2 seed in the South in next weekend’s Southwestern Lacrosse Conference Tournament, after defeating No. 7 Arizona 9-5, Saturday night in Tucson.
The upset on the road means the Sun Devils finished the regular season with a winning record. They were 6-5 overall and 3-1 in conference play. ASU will now be the No. 2 seed for the south, and will face the No. 3 seed from the north, USC, at home in the first round of the SLC Tournament.
The Devils were led by two underclassmen: freshman attackman Patrick Haviland and sophomore faceoff specialist Zac Mathien. Haviland scored three of the Devils’ goals, and helped forced a turnover while riding that led to a goal from fellow freshman attack Jake Marthens. /However, it was Mathien’s dominant performance that truly carried the team. He went 16-18 at the X, and even knotted a goal. At the start of the second quarter, he took the draw and raced down the field to score in just 5.7 seconds.
After that goal, both teams went on a 16:29 scoring drought. The Devils mimicked the style of play that led them to an upset of No. 5 University of Colorado just four days earlier. They focused on longer possessions with revitalized ball movement. Senior midfielder Adam Beauchamp tallied three assists as ASU worked to spread out its offense. Six different Sun Devils combined for the team’s nine goals.
Though Mathien’s strong play handed the Devils possession after possession, it was the Wildcats who got on the scoreboard first. The two rivals then traded goals for the majority of the first quarter. However, after Sun Devil senior Henry Archie sniped his first of two goals to make it 2-2, ASU went on a 5-0 run.
It was not until late in the third quarter that Arizona junior midfielder Matt Lai stopped the bleeding, and made it 7-3, ASU. The Wildcats would then score the next two, closing the gap and making it 7-5, with 7:08 to play in the fourth.
Haviland’s wrap-around goal with 6:24 left made the lead a little more comfortable for the visiting Sun Devils, who wear sporting black tops and white shorts to contrast with Arizona’s all-red uniforms for their Senior Day. Finally, junior attackman Rhett Rodgers, who leads the Sun Devils in goals (19) and points per game (2.6), took a pass from Beauchamp and buried it with just 1:54 left to play. Rodgers’ goal would be the dagger, as ASU was able to run off the remainder of the clock.
The victory came at the tail end of a stretch of four games against top-25 opponents in eight days for the Sun Devils. They finished 3-1 in that time frame, falling only to No. 6 Colorado State by one goal on the road. This high performance at the end of the season should have the Sun Devils well prepared for the conference and MCLA tournaments.
They will now have a week to get ready to host USC. The Trojans defeated UCLA to finish with an 8-7 record and earn a berth in the SLC Tournament.