Arizona State’s men’s lacrosse team will start off its 2013 campaign Saturday against California. The road to the championship begins now for the second-ranked team in the MCLA.
ASU’s conference schedule will start only a day after their season opener, as they’ll face off against the San Diego State Aztecs. The Devils have never lost to the Aztecs in six all-time meetings, and have beaten them by an average of 13.7 goals in each game.
From there, though, the going gets tough, as the team heads out to Minnesota for tournament play against fifth-ranked Cal Poly and hometown Minnesota-Duluth, currently ranked 19th.
In three all-time meetings with the Cal Poly Mustangs, the Sun Devils have a 2-1 record. However, that one loss was also the most recent match-up, in last year’s MCLA Final Four. After serving ASU’s tournament elimination in a 10-4 victory, there won’t be any love lost between these teams on Feb. 23rd.
After the trip to Minnesota, the Sun Devils have nine consecutive home games. The home-stand will be anything but a cake walk as the Devils will take on third-ranked BYU, fourth-ranked Chapman, and 11th-ranked UC Santa Barbara.
The game against BYU should raise some eyebrows around the MCLA, and not just because it’s a meeting between top-three teams. This will also be a rematch of the 2011 MCLA Championship, in which BYU beat the Sun Devils 10-8. ASU is winless in their four total games against the Cougars.
As always, the team will finish off its season against cross-state rival Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats haven’t beaten ASU since 2007, and it won’t be any easier on the road this year.
Game to Watch
While pretty much everyone awaits the BYU-ASU clash, there’s a better game to mark down on the schedule: Chapman-ASU. These two teams seem to face off every year in the SLC tournament, and have also played twice in the MCLA tournament. It’s a bitter rivalry, and with nine total games played between them, the Sun Devils have only a slim edge with the 5-4 series record.
It will be in Tempe, where the Sun Devils beat Chapman in the only game the two teams have played there.
Dating back to 2007, ASU has struggled in its season’s first game versus a championship-contending opponent (BYU in ’07, Michigan in ’08, Michigan in ’10, Colorado State in ’11, Texas in ’12). However, this year is the earliest that ASU will face such an opponent (Cal Poly) since Michigan in 2008.
So it’s not the Cal Poly game that’s sending off signals as much as the game directly following it. Perhaps Minnesota-Duluth sounds like an easy victory, but this is still a team in the top 20 of the MCLA. More importantly, this is a team at home, a team with a bone to pick after falling to the Sun Devils in Tempe last year.
In fact, the UMD Bulldogs went on a five-game losing streak last year after starting the season 4-0, and four of those five losses were road games against the SLC. That stretch tanked the team’s chances of getting an at-large bid in the MCLA tournament, but they were able to win their conference tournament and make it as an automatic bid.
In their first round match-up against Cal Poly, the Bulldogs held their own and they headed to overtime with the Mustangs before finally losing to the eventual runner-ups. ASU did make a deeper run in the tournament, but when they faced the same Mustangs team, they were beaten handedly, 10-4.