Arizona State held off a late charge from the Whittier Poets to win narrowly, 9-8. Characterized by abrupt momentum swings, the game was a preview of what’s usually seen from ASU in the regular season.
And to think, this was only a scrimmage.
After giving up a goal early in the game, the Sun Devils responded phenomenally well, going on a 5-1 run to end the first quarter. However, the second quarter was much slower paced, with only two goals being scored to make the score 6-3 going into the half.
“The energy level pretty much went down after that first quarter,” said ASU head coach Chris Malone.
Coming out of halftime, the third quarter was a lesson in what happens when you start slow. Whittier started using their physicality to overpower some of the Devils’ smaller attackers and midfielders, and scored four straight to pull ahead 7-6. ASU could not seem to conjure a good offensive possession until the final minute of the third, where an ASU goal knotted it at 7 apiece going into the fourth.
“One thing I liked about the scrimmage was our resiliency. Losing a big lead like that and still being able to come back and win – that’s huge,” Malone said.
While the Sun Devils grinded their way to a 9-7 lead late in the fourth, a goal by the Poets with two minutes left threatened the slim lead. However, the defense stepped up in a big way in Whittier’s final offensive possession, forcing a turnover with 30 seconds left to run out the clock.
One could say that the decline in the vigor shown on the field by ASU was influenced by the team’s attempt to field every player for playing time. Although the rotations were featuring more and more inexperienced players as the first half went on, Malone admitted they still have a ways to go.
“There’s little things we’ve gotta fix. And we will fix them.”
Arizona State will play in their regular season opener next Saturday, February 16th, against the no. 16 California Golden Bears.