(Photo: Debbie Braasch/ASU Lacrosse)
With a strong start to the 2014 lacrosse season, No. 3 Arizona State won each of its first two games against Stanford and Utah, coming on the heels of new faces in the lineup.
Matt Wallace, Conor McLaughlin and John McCallum are newcomers who are beginning to prove themselves to be huge assets as Sun Devils.
Wallace, who started both games on defense, is a freshman who is already making a large impact on this team. With a large, athletic build and well-developed knowledge of the game, he is an ideal player for this defensive scheme. Coming into the season, there was a new spot to fill due to the graduation of Jon Little, and Wallace could prove to be his long-term replacement on this defense.
Competitive lacrosse is something Wallace is no stranger to after playing in Annapolis, MD, for a strong high school program. He maintains solid coverage and is confident in his “defense positioning and staying in front of guys when they’re dodging.”
He is seen as a huge threat at 6’3” and 200 pounds. ASU head coach Chris Malone said, “His athleticism and lacrosse IQ are the two things that have helped him really transition well into this team.”
Making appearances at the midfielder position last weekend were both McLaughlin and McCallum.
McLaughlin is a first year ASU player, but a junior who has had previous lacrosse experience at the NCAA Division 2 level, playing for Adams State University in Colorado. He is a Phoenix native who decided to return home to finish his college career and graduate from Arizona State.
McLaughlin has had to take on the “freshman” role a second time, as a newcomer to the team. He said, “It was like I was a freshman again, but I eventually had to use my maturity to help myself get into the groove.”
During his first two games as a Sun Devil, McLaughlin proved he was back in his groove by using his quickness to score his first career goal as a Sun Devil.
“My biggest strength is probably being able to move the ball quickly,” McLaughlin said, “Being fast and being able to get it out of the stick fast to make quick decisions.”
Coach Malone likes the improvement he has seen in McLaughlin throughout high school and college, and thinks the maturity that comes with being a junior in college has played out to be an advantage.
John McCallum is a freshman with less college experience at the midfielder position, and is currently facing the challenge of transitioning from high school lacrosse to college level lacrosse.
“My experience has been all about getting used to the college process,” McCallum said. “It’s just like playing a whole new game basically.”
McCallum acknowledges that there needs to be an improvement in his lacrosse IQ. “(My largest strength is) drive, because I may not be the smartest player or the fastest player right now but the fact that I try to do my best is what keeps me going.”
Malone is confident in what each of these players brings to Arizona State lacrosse and thinks they are all transitioning well. All three players will next see action in Friday’s home-opener against Minnesota-Duluth, at 7 p.m. You can catch that broadcast live at http://www.cronkitesports.com/live-broadcasts/