(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
The 2016 Arizona State University Lacrosse season is winding down, as the team is getting set to play the first round of the SLC playoffs at home, Sunday. However, junior transfer Russell Bartle is finding himself filling a new role for the Sun Devils.
The season took an unexpected turn for the goalie on April 1 in a game against No. 4 Grand Canyon University.
Bartle gave up eight goals while only making two saves, totaling a save percentage of 20. He was pulled from the game, and has not started since.
“I have to embrace my role right now,” Bartle said. “I know it’s not exactly what I want but I’m still having a great time out here.”
Junior goalie Chris Roufanis, came in replacing Bartle, Roufanis got a quick penalty. But another substitution followed, and freshman Johnny Perlite was called into the game.
“I was not expecting that at all,” Perlite said. “I was pretty nervous. [That’s] what you’d expect from a freshman goalie coming in.”
Perlite had a tough time adjusting mid-game, but he performed better than expected. Making four saves while allowing five goals in the following game against San Diego State as the 5-foot-10 freshman made 16 saves and on 18 shots.
The Devils had a 2-4 record when Bartle started in the goal, but since Perlite took over the starting position, the team is 4-1.
At 6-foot-4 Bartle towers over the rest of his teammates who competed for the starting goalie position at the start of the season.
“I knew a lot of guys who played here before,” Bartle said. “I knew they could play.”
Bartle beat out three other players at the beginning of the season to win the starting job. But things got off to a rocky start against Oregon State in February, when he totaled eight saves and allowed seven goals.
In the ensuing games, Bartle appeared to have found a rhythm against USC, Cal Poly, and BYU, racking up double digit saves in all three games before GCU.
Bartle, ironically, transferred from Division I Highpoint University to the club level for another opportunity, but with the way Perlite has been playing, Bartle’s time in the goal has dramatically decreased.
The two goalies are remarkably similar statistically. Bartle is trailing Perlite by only 0.8-percent in overall saves-per-game while playing just one less game for the Sun Devils.
In the meantime, Bartle is helping Perlite adjust to his new role.
“If I have coaching tips [and] if they want to hear them,” Bartle said. “Saying, ‘I think you can do this different, or try this.’”
But Bartle isn’t throwing the towel in just yet on his hopes of returning to the starting position.
“Show up ready to play everyday,” Bartle said. “Anyone could get hurt at any second and anything could happen.”
If you want to reach Bailey O’Carroll you can email her at email@example.com or find her on Twitter at @baileyocarroll.