'Anywhere, Anyone' Scheduling Philosophy has Lacrosse in Prime Postseason Position
Head Coach Tim McCormack has challenged his team with an extremely difficult schedule and it has paid off, as Sun Devil Lacrosse is pushing for their first berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona State is looked upon favorably in two key metrics when evaluating their postseason resume. The Maroon and Gold have the No. 8-rated strength of schedule, having faced nine Top-25 teams through 16 games. Because of their success in those games, Arizona State has a RPI of 26, which continues to climb down the stretch. During a five-game span from March and into April, ASU played five straight games against ranked opponents, one of only eight teams in the nation that had to take on that challenge in 2022.
"Our staff designed this schedule to test us right from the very start," Coach McCormack reflected. "We were confident that our group would learn and benefit from those experiences, which has been the case. This team will not be caught off guard by any environment they enter from here on out."
As the regular season gets closer to a conclusion, Sun Devil Lacrosse continues to emerge as one of the up-and-coming programs in the nation. Take a closer look at how the 2022 campaign has unfolded, one that has prepared Arizona State for any opponent they face. The following is a breakdown of the Maroon & Gold's resume as they head into the postseason:
SUN DEVILS IN THE RANKINGS
Arizona State is currently ranked in the Top-25 in one of two major national polls, the fourth straight week they have been ranked. This is the first instance in which ASU stayed in four consecutive Top-25's. Inside Lacrosse/IWCLA slot the Sun Devils at No. 23 in their latest polls, matching the highest spot ever occupied by the program. ASU is also receiving votes and on the cusp of cracking the most recent U.S. Lacrosse Magazine Top-20.
U.S. Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse recently published their weekly bracketology and Arizona State fans will recognize a familiar name. The Sun Devils are in the NCAA Tournament field as an at large team according to both publications. U.S. Lacrosse Magazine projects Arizona State to play Virginia in a first round matchup at the Chapel Hill Regional, hosted by No. 1 seed North Carolina. Inside Lacrosse has the Sun Devils traveling to the Evanston Regional and taking on Notre Dame in a first round matchup hosted by No. 4 seed Northwestern.
What is helping Coach McCormack's team separate itself is the lack of bad losses, as all seven of their defeats in 2022 have come at the hands of teams currently in the Top-25. To take that a step further, three Sun Devil losses have been against teams in the Top-10. ASU is one of four Pac-12 teams making a push for a NCAA berth, joined by USC, Stanford, and Colorado in producing a banner year for the league. Only the ACC and Big Ten (5 each) have more teams in the mock field than the Pac-12, both of which are almost double the size of the Pac-12. The Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament represents another opportunity for the Sun Devils to increase their postseason appeal, with extremely intriguing potential semifinal matchups.
The resume of the Maroon & Gold includes several impressive wins that will prove to be a huge boost come postseason time. Despite playing the 8th-toughest schedule in the nation, Arizona State is 9-7 and has defeated three ranked teams.
March 13th - Arizona State 20, #23 Colorado 6
Arizona State took control of the game early and never looked back, overwhelming the ranked Buffaloes during an 8-0 second period. The 14-goal margin of defeat was the largest in the nine-year history of the Colorado program. They claim their second win over a Top-25 team as a program, doing it in impressive fashion.
April 3rd - Arizona State 13, @ #14 Rutgers 12 (OT)
Sun Devil Lacrosse earned a dramatic comeback victory on the road over No. 14 Rutgers. They pick up their first victory over a Top-15 opponent in program history, handing the highly-touted Scarlet Knights only their second loss of the season. Carley Adams scored the game-winning goal in the first sudden death overtime period, sending the strong contingent of Sun Devil fans that had made the trip into a frenzy.
ASU was down by as many as four goals at several points of the game in less than ideal weather, but showed resiliency and toughness in mounting a valiant comeback effort. Arizona State was responsible for the final three goals of the game, stunning the home crowd and earning the program's first victory over a Big Ten opponent.
April 8th - #25 Arizona State 18, #22 Stanford 11
Sun Devil Lacrosse finally got over the hump, defeating Stanford for the first time. Arizona State proved to be the better team from the opening draw, outscoring the No. 22 Cardinal each of the four quarters en route to an impressive 18-11 victory. Now that Head Coach Tim McCormack has defeated Stanford, his program has now beaten all five Pac-12 opponents. In a matchup of Top-25 teams, the No. 25 Sun Devils controlled the action in front of a lively home crowd.
The Maroon & Gold backed up a road win over No. 14 Rutgers with a second straight Top-25 victory, the first time the program has accomplished the feat.
April 17th - #23 Arizona State 16, @ Colorado 8
Arizona State had never won in Boulder, but that changed in a big way on April 17 thanks to a complete and focused effort. The Sun Devils jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, utilizing a balanced attack and aggressive defense to overwhelm the Buffaloes from the opening whistle. ASU took the home crowd out of the game as Colorado never got back within four goals, with the Maroon & Gold eventually establishing a running clock thanks to a double-digit lead.
TESTS AGAINST THE BEST
The Sun Devils have matched up with some of the nation's best teams during their 2022 campaign. It started with a trip to the Midwest, when they took on No. 11 Michigan and No. 5 Northwestern on the road in their first two games. Arizona State would then host No. 11 Florida, the highest ranked team to ever play at Sun Devil Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium. Cap that off with a road trip to the nation's best scoring defense in No. 5 Stony Brook and you begin to see why Arizona State is unafraid of any challenge.
With the win over Stanford back on April 8th, Arizona State has now beaten every other Pac-12 program. They picked up at least one victory over every Pac-12 team this season, sweeping the season series with Colorado, Oregon, and California. The seven conference wins and winning percentage of 70% both represented new program highs. The third place finish in the Pac-12 was also a new best, with ASU claiming the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament for the first time. They look to build off the success at last year's Pac-12 Tournament, where they reached the semifinal round for the first time.
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP COMING TO TEMPE
Arizona State earned the chance to host the 2022 Pac-12 Lacrosse Championships, running May 4-7 in Tempe. A six-team bracket was released by the Pac-12 Conference, with two first round matchups taking place on Wednesday, May 4. First up, No. 4 seed Colorado will take on No. 5 seed Oregon at 4:30 PM MST. No. 3 seed Arizona State will start their postseason run in the nightcap, taking on No. 6 seed California at 7 PM MST. No. 1 seed Stanford and No. 2 seed USC get a bye into the semifinals and they will await the winners of the two first round games. Friday is an off day, meaning the Pac-12 Tournament Championships with an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on the line on Saturday, May 7 at 12 PM MST. Here is a look at the bracket:
TICKETS ON SALE
Tickets for the 2022 Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament are now available for purchase at the following link. Tickets purchased on Wednesday's quarterfinal and Thursday's semifinal action will be good for both games during that session. Both general admission and reserved seating options will be sold. Group prices are available throughout the event, with more information found here or by calling the Sun Devil Ticket Office at (480) 965-5812. Arizona State University's clear bag policy will be in effect and is available here.
NCAA TOURNAMENT KEY DATES
Sunday, May 8th - Selection Show on NCAA.com
Friday, May 13th & Sunday, May 15th - First & Second Round Games (Campus Sites)
Thursday, May 19th - Quarterfinals (Campus Sites)
Friday, May 27th - Semifinals (Homewood Field; Baltimore, MD)
Sunday, May 29th - National Championship (Homewood Field; Baltimore, MD)
HOW THE FIELD IS MADE
The NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament is made of 29 teams, with 15 automatic bids handed out to conference tournament champions, leaving 14 at large bids selected by a committee. The Top-8 teams get National Seeds and are guaranteed to host in the first and second round if capable, with the Top-3 seeds also receiving a bye into the second round.
HOW TO FOLLOW
For in-game updates, follow our Twitter and Instagram accounts (@SunDevilWLax). Like our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sundevilwlax/) for content throughout the season. Visit our website, TheSunDevils.com, for the latest updates and information on the program.