(Photo: Jacob Franklin/WCSN)
The Arizona State men’s club lacrosse team made some changes that paid off in a major way as the No. 14 Sun Devils earned an 11-7 win over the No. 2 Colorado Buffalos.
The win is no doubt the marquee moment of the season so far for ASU, a respected program that has tumbled to a 2-3 start this season.
“I reevaluated a few things and I went and looked at what we’d been doing pre-game wise,” Sun Devil head coach Todd MacRobbie said. “I think they responded well to the change so quick.”
The Sun Devils completely dictated terms in the first half. ASU had scored 17 first-half goals in its first four games, an average of around four per outing. On Saturday, ASU had eight goals before the break to only two for Colorado.
Senior attack Rhett Rodgers and junior midfielder Thomas Carrasco each posted a hat trick in the first half. The pair put together a 6-1 scoring run for ASU, overwhelming junior Buffalo goalie Jensen Makarov with their powerful sticks.
The game was a breakthrough for Rodgers, who has not been on pace to replicate his 25-goal, 33-point season in 2016. He had only found the net twice before the game against CU.
“We were just playing loose,” Rodgers said. “That was our goal today. Just play loose. Move the ball quicker and not worry so much about turnovers. Just play the game.”
Carrasco solidified his place atop the Devils’ points list with his big game. Both players finished with four scores, becoming the first this season to have more than three in a game.
While ASU opened a large lead over the No. 2 team in the nation, the Buffalos were not going to go quietly. Sophomore midfielder Colin Macilvennie and junior attack Ben Wharton scored to pull Colorado within four twice. Both times, ASU responded. Rodgers scored with about three minutes left to give ASU an 11-6 lead.
The Sun Devils saw the threat of a comeback in their 9-8 loss to Colorado State. ASU scored six unanswered goals but could not complete the comeback attempt. That experience helped them hold back Colorado.
“Our guys saw what we did on Thursday,” MacRobbie said. “They realized that could happen to everybody.”
The decisive goal came with a brief scare for ASU. Rodgers was slow to get off the grass after the long shot and walked gingerly to the sidelines. Rodgers said he thought he heard his knee pop, but trainers cleared him of any serious problem.
ASU also capitalized on penalties in what was a physical battle. The Devils started the second half a man down for three minutes after a penalty as the whistle sounded. Colorado also ceded several numbers advantages, which the Devils capitalized on.
The other key to the game was the return of starting goalie Johnny Perlite. The sophomore keeper missed Thursday’s game due to sickness, but fought through it Saturday to make some key plays.
Perlite’s skill between the bars was key to ASU stopping one of Colorado’s most dangerous weapons. Senior middie Jake Gonzalez, a former All-American transfer from Drexel, took several shots at Perlite but only scored once.
“He made a save today from his knees,” MacRobbie said. “Johnny is our guy and some of those saves that he made show why he’s the guy we put in there.” MacRobbie said Perlite still isn’t 100 percent but was glad to see him do what he needed to do.