It was a night of firsts for ASU as the Sun Devils (6-1) raced ahead of the Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1) and never looked back on their way to a 23 to six victory.
ASU’s usual contributors had solid nights, as Payson Clark and Dan Davis each recorded a hat trick and Justin Straker was able to score four goals of his own, but the second half was dominated by the Devils’ depth as several players were able to score their first goals of the season in the rout against the Gophers.
Connor Ebnor, Adam Beauchamp, AJ Schaffner, Bobby Braun, and Billy Mayne all contributed to the ASU scoring frenzy as they notched their first goals of the season. For all but Schaffner these goals marked the first goals of their ASU careers.
Senior defenseman Ian Connell even got in on the action with his first assist of the season.
ASU started the game hot, scoring four goals in just the first few minutes before finishing the first quarter with a five to zero lead.
Coach Malone was impressed with how fast ASU was able to jump ahead.
“This was the best first five minutes of any game we’ve played this year,” Malone said.
Errant passes and a suffocating defense limited what the Golden Gophers were able to do the entire game. Along with weak clearing, ASU was able to take advantage of sloppy play from Minnesota and force several turnovers, which turned into more offensive possessions for the dynamic ASU attack.
Though the Gophers rarely had the ball on offense, they were able to put together decent offensive strikes when they maintained possession.
Minnesota’s lone bright spot on offense came from sophomore midfielder Chase Fisher, who recorded a hat trick of his own and upped his goal total to nine through four games for the Gophers.
ASU managed to limit Sean Lee, Minnesota’s leading scorer, to just one goal on the night. Lee found the back of the cage at the end of the first half when a save by Preston Andersen bounced to Lee, leaving an open shot for the senior midfielder.
After taking a 10-2 lead into the half, ASU started making their substitutions, and in the third quarter the team had their best scoring output of any quarter this season, putting nine points on the board in a flurry of action. The Gophers scored two goals of their own, and the fourth quarter started with ASU leading 19-4.
The Sun Devils were able to outscore the Golden Gophers in the last quarter of play as well and finish the game 23-6.
“I felt good about our play from the first minute to the last” said Coach Malone.
After suffering their first loss of the season, Minnesota will look to get back in the win column on Saturday against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.
The Sun Devils continue their season on Saturday against the BYU Cougars at home.