After feeling a loss of the Zack Handy effect in the first half, Arizona State found momentum late in the third quarter to carry them to a 10-5 win over Chapman and into the MCLA title game for the first time since 2011.
With a 4-4 in the third quarter, midfielder Kyle Denis took his defender on a ride through two spin moves and ripped a shot into the back of the net with 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
On the ensuing face-off, Courtland Jones, who was in for the injured Zack Handy, was able to win the draw and take a quick shot, before the rebound got scooped up by Dan Davis, who scored with one second left on the clock in the third quarter.
This all happened in a lineup ASU hadn’t used 40 days. Late in the third quarter, ASU head coach Chris Malone sent senior Logan Quinn into an attacking role and Beauchamp entered the vacant midfield spot.
“It just felt like ‘Hey, you know it’s a close game,’” Malone said. “You know Logan is a senior. Let’s get our senior on the field as much as we can, and let him go and try to make some plays and see if that changes anything up for the defense on their end, and it did.’”
Arizona State rode that momentum all the way through the fourth quarter, and Quinn was able to score along with three Sun Devil teammates.
Zack Handy was taken out of the game from a head-to-head contact delivered in the first half by Nicky Mullen, who went to the penalty box for the hit. The ASU training staff decided not to allow Handy to return to the game, ASU head coach Chris Malone said.
Handy will likely not return to play Saturday against Colorado in the MCLA Championship, Zack Handy’s father Jim Handy said.
The Sun Devils felt the loss of Handy with fewer possessions than normal in the first half. Chapman won six of the first seven face-offs against Courtland Jones.
“I had to get a lot of the jitters out,” Jones said. “I usually don’t let nerves get to me, but when you first get college minutes in the semifinals, it kind of takes of takes over you even if you fight your hardest not to let it.”
After Handy left, defensive leadership helped ASU finish the first half. Justin Straker, who had three goals, won a ground ball behind the cage and was able to find a goal in an empty net. Late in the second quarter, Nick Hillier forced a ground ball in the defensive half and scored, coast-to-coast, to give Arizona State a 4-3 advantage to end the half.
“I mean, Courtland stepped up and he played a heck of a game,” captain Ian Connell said. “So when he comes out and does that, it is a lot easier to respond well, but I think we were also confident in ourselves. We realized that ‘Hey, this is our chance to prove that our team isn’t just good because of Zack Handy.’”
With the win, the Sun Devils will play in the MCLA Championship for the first time since 2011. Connell played in ASU’s 10-8 loss to BYU in his last championship game, and he believes his team this season is different than that 2011 team.
“For me in particular, it’s going to be my last game instead of my first season,” Connell said. “And on top of that, I think we’re more of a team. As a freshman on that team, I felt young and inexperienced. Now, I feel like this team is really experienced and blended well together.”
Arizona State will face the 2-seed Colorado Buffs in the MCLA’s championship game, Saturday at Chapman Stadium at 3 p.m. PST.
You can reach Anthony Prosceno on Twitter @The_A_Pro or via email at email@example.com