(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Despite a poor shooting performance from the then No. 3 Arizona State offense in their home opener against the then No. 7 Cal Poly Mustangs, one attackman appears to repeat the great season he had last year.
Junior attackman Rhett Rodgers put in three goals against the Mustangs on February 20.
Rodgers also scored four times against the USC Trojans in the Pac-12 Shootout earlier this season. The mentality for the Scottsdale native is all about winning.
“I thought we could have beat that team (Cal Poly),” Rodgers said. “I just take the shots that I think are going to go in the goal.”
Those shots have gone in. Rodgers has scored eight goals in his first three games this season, which is the same as how he started last season.
A year ago, Rodgers was third on the team for goals (29) and points (38) going up against two First Team All-Americans in Dan Davis (38 G, 56 P) and Cooper Pickell (35 G, 66 P). What’s even more impressive about Rodgers are his multiple goal games.
Rodgers had nine multiple goal games last season. Five of those resulting in a hat trick or more.
The overall playing style of Rodgers is different from other attackman. Standing at 6-foot-4 inches and weighing about 200 pounds, he’s a big body for the Sun Devils. Many of his goals come within the crease area because he is able to truck through multiple defenders in traffic.
“The kid can shoot the ball,” senior midfielder Adam Beauchamp said. “He sticks it when he’s got his hands on the side and when he get’s his hands free, it’s a guarantee he’ll be shooting that thing.”
Rodgers is on pace to have an equal, if not better season then he did last year. He currently leads the team in goals (8) and points (9), resulting in two hat tricks this year.
Rodgers expects those numbers to keep on rising.
“I feel like I grew as a player,” Rodgers said. “I got Most Improved Player last year and it’s a goal of mine to get it again this year. I plan on getting more assists this year and being a more balanced player.”
Currently, Rodgers only has one assist on the year, but with the explosive offense that ASU has, he can gather those assists numbers easily.
Scoring is one impressive aspect of Rodgers’ game, but his more developed mindset makes him a well-rounded player.
“He has tremendously stepped up his game,” said head coach Todd Macrobbie. “As a young guy, he just liked to shoot a lot. Now, it’s him deciding to be the man he can be and for him it’s all mental.”
The effort Rhett has given over his career here at Arizona State has been highly noticed. MacRobbie mentioned how he has given the extra time to apply the advice given to him and come out to be a well developed player.
“He’s always working,” Beauchamp said. “You can always rely on his skill set to be brought every single day.”
The leadership he brings to practice is well reflected in the performance in the attack. Beauchamp mentioned how Rodgers and senior attackman Finn Wells have been influential on the attack in positive ways.
“With some of the guys that play with him, they do a lot better when he’s out there with him,” Macrobbie said. “When Rhett speaks, a lot of the guys listen. It’s a great quality for him to have, especially as a junior.”
Looking ahead to Monday, the Sun Devils look to rebound after the loss as they take on No. 13 Boston College. Before they face off against the Sun Devils, the Eagles will have two other games against No. 9 Grand Canyon University and No. 8 University of Arizona.
Fatigue is going to be a factor for the Eagles and Rodgers could capitalize on that as each Eagle goaltender has a save percentage of under 60.
“We lost a game, we move past it,” Rodgers said. “That’s the first time we lost on that field and we don’t want that to happen again.”