(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
In an SLC opener pitting two high-octane offenses against one another, it was No. 4 Grand Canyon who emerged victorious over No. 12 Arizona State 17-12.
The Lopes used flurries of offensive bursts as six different goal scorers found the back of the net over the course of the game. Led by junior attackman Joe Balestrerie and freshman midfielder Cam Wengreniuk who combined for 10 goals, GCU led wire-to-wire.
“We just fought hard and played together,” said Balestrerie.
The opening period was all Lopes as they collected a 4-1 lead on goals from Wengreniuk, Balestrerie and senior attackman Drew Dziadyk. ASU quickly erased the deficit to one goal early in the second quarter but Grand Canyon erupted for five goals in the final nine minutes of the half, leading 9-4 at the break.
“The team focus is to share the ball,” said senior attackman Dean Fairall, “We have so many threats on offense. If we all do our jobs and play unselfish, we will win games.”
As for the Sun Devils, offense did not come easy for much of the game. Arizona State struggled to figure out Lopes goalie, junior Brandon Suchand. Seemingly every Sun Devil shot taken was deflected or altered. Additionally, the Sun Devils committed five crease violations.
“Our shooting sucks and it has all season,” said Arizona State head coach Todd MacRobbie.
Arizona State fared better in the second half but it was too late as the offensive dominance of GCU controlled the game tempo in the fourth quarter.
The Sun Devils had eight second half goals, notably junior long-stick midfielder Zach Long notching his first goal of the season, while senior attackman Finn Wells had a hat-trick.
The loss drops Arizona State to 2-4 on the season while Grand Canyon improves to 6-3.
“We are starting to play like a team that is serious about doing some damage in the postseason,” said Grand Canyon head coach Manny Rapkin, “ They have that look like they want to be in the postseason. We just have to keep that up.”
Arizona State’s next match is against San Diego State at Arizona State University West Campus, April 3 at 1:00 p.m.
If you want to reach Zach Pekale you email him at email@example.com or find him on twitter @zachpakale.