(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
After ending the 2014 season is traumatic fashion, No. 2 Arizona State revamped the program with a new head coach, Joe Thon. The Sun Devils are playing the first game of the Thon era on Saturday. The Sun Devils’ first match up will be against No. 23 University of California to start off the 2015 Pac-12 Shootout at UCLA.
The Golden Bears ended their season last year second in the WCLL and missed the national tournament. Just like the Sun Devils, Cal has a new head coach and a new system to learn. Ned Webster, who last coached for the Dominican Penguins (then NCAA Dll, now MCLA), hasn’t gotten the team off to the start it was looking for.
Last week, the Golden Bears played Santa Clara University to start their season and lost 12-11 in overtime.
“We were kind of jittery,” Webster said. “I don’t know if it was the excitement of the first game that sent a little shockwave through us. They were better than they looked.”
ASU has also struggled in their first spring action of the year in a scrimmage against Whittier College 20-7, being outscored 10-1 in the fourth quarter.
“Can’t beat around the bush about it,” junior midfielder Henry Archie said. “It was a really embarrassing showing for us.”
What to Expect
Expect to see aches and pains as the Sun Devils embrace a new system with new personnel. Many players will be taking the field for the first time as a starter in their MCLA careers, including all three of ASU’s starting defensemen.
“Normally we would be taking it light the next two days, but we’re going to go harder than we normally would because we definitely need the extra work.” senior attackman Dan Davis said of practicing earlier in the week.
The Golden Bears will be coming into the game with a chip on their shoulder. After being projected to beat Santa Clara and instead suffering an overtime loss, there’s a lot of incentive to pull off the upset.
Against Santa Clara, sophomore midfielder Max McKone scored nearly half of his team’s points with five goals.
“He can score in lots of ways, he is a very dynamic player.” Webster said.
With offensive firepower like McKone’s as well as star attackman Nick Sheehan, expect this unit to take advantage of ASU’s inexperienced defense.
The Golden Bears will get off to a hot start and score the first few goals of the game. Eventually ASU will get into an offensive rhythm as senior attackman Dan Davis will take over. There will be mistakes made by both teams but ASU should come out on top. ASU 11, Cal 8
The game’s opening face-off will be at noon on Saturday. Tune in to WCSN’s live stream here.