Finals Bound: Lacrosse Beats USC for Spot in Pac-12 Championship
TEMPE, Ariz. Sun Devil Lacrosse picked up one of the biggest wins in program history, defeating No. 16 USC in the Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament semifinals on Thursday evening at Sun Devil Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
No. 23 Arizona State (11-7, 7-3) proved to be the better team in the ranked matchup, outlasting the Trojans despite having just played a game the day before. The impact of Assistant Head Coach for Sports Performance Pete Alosi and Head Athletic Trainer Caitlyn Blanton was on full display, as the Maroon & Gold bounced back with fresh legs and plenty of gas still in the tank. In an instant classic, the Sun Devils pulled off a massive 13-12 victory to clinch a berth into the 2022 Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament championship game thanks to a vital 3-0 fourth quarter run.
Head Coach Tim McCormack and his staff learned from the two regular season matchups with the Trojans, constructing a gameplan that attacked the weaknesses of the Trojans, Even with the return of All-American Kelsey Huff to the USC lineup, Arizona State still managed to pull off the victory against the highly-touted No. 2 seed and co-Pac-12 Regular Season Champions. It sets up a matchup with the No. 1 seed and No. 17-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Saturday, May 7th at 12 PM MST on Pac-12 Network. Don't miss your chance to witness Sun Devil Lacrosse's first ever appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game in person. Purchase tickets at the following link.
"Can't help but be thrilled with the performance tonight," Coach McCormack remarked. "That was a gutsy finish and we are excited to get to spend another day together as a group."
It was a total team effort that allowed Arizona State to pick up their first victory over the Trojans at Sun Devil Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium. ASU jumped out to a 5-2 lead after the first quarter and held on, riding the strength of another balanced offense and clutch defensive plays. Emily Munro and Carley Adams led the way with three goals each, with Emily Glagolev dishing out four assists. When the defense needed to shut down the Trojan attack, they did, preventing a USC goal for a crucial 11-minute stretch in the fourth quarter. The Maroon & Gold were able to overcome a late one-goal deficit thanks to a 3-0 run, sealing a 13-12 victory.
Arizona State becomes the first team other than Stanford, USC, or Colorado, to make the Pac-12 Championship game. On Saturday, they will be faced with the tough task of taking on No. 17 Stanford, one of the nation's best offensive teams. Stanford has won two of the three Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournaments, with USC taking home the only other one. Catch Saturday's game on Pac-12 Network at 12 PM MST. The Sun Devils will go for their third win in four days, this one clinching them an automatic berth into the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Arizona State showed no signs of fatigue early on that plagued Oregon, the other advancing team from yesterday. Instead, Arizona State was a step quicker and ready to play from the start, jumping out to an early lead. Emily Glagolev and Emily Munro answered an opening goal by the Trojans with a goal each to give ASU it's first lead at 2-1. After a USC goal knotted the game at two, it was all Sun Devils for the rest of the first period. First it was Katie Brodsky registering a goal, followed by Carley Adams to give ASU a 4-2 advantage. With only five seconds remaining, Mina Scott beat the buzzer with a goal as Arizona State took a 5-2 lead after one.
No. 16 USC responded with a strong quarter, closing the gap on their Top 25 counterpart. However, it wasn't enough to prevent ASU from taking a lead into halftime. This was thanks in large part to a 3-0 run midway through the quarter. It started with a Carley Adams goal, followed by scores by Kaylon Buckner and Emily Munro. When it was all said and done, ASU took a 8-7 lead into the break with the game living up to the hype.
Coach McCormack's team did exactly what they needed to do coming out of the half, matching USC's intensity and desperation for the remainder of the game. Both sides scored five goals in the second half, allowing ASU to keep it's one-goal margin. The tempo slowed down dramatically in the third period, with the Sun Devil defense forcing USC to play at an uncomfortable pace. Arizona State's two goals of the period came courtesy of Emily Glagolev and Emily Munro, with the latter coming as time was about to expire in the third period. The Maroon & Gold held a 10-9 advantage after three.
To finish the game off and put away the Trojans would require a monumental effort, and that is exactly what the Sun Devils gave. Arizona State remained the quicker and more conditioned team, which proved to come in handy down the stretch, In crutch time and the season on the line, it was the usual suspects who rose to the occasion. After USC took their first lead of the game since opening things up at 1-0, Carley Adams provided the pivotal response, finishing off a feed from fellow captain Emily Glagolev to tie the game back up at 11. It was a Taylor Pinzone goal that gave ASU a 12-11 lead, as she came through in another clutch moment. Mina Scott's score with 2:41 left would put ASU up 13-11 and go down as the game-winning goal, as the Maroon & Gold claimed a hard-fought 13-12 victory.
- Arizona State advanced to the Pac-12 Championship Game for the first time in program history.
- They are the first team besides USC, Stanford, or Colorado to make it the finals.
- Coming into the week, the Sun Devils had one Pac-12 Tournament win as a program. They have picked up two victories in the past two days.
- ASU moves to 11-7 on the season, setting a new single-season program record for wins.
- The win moves Arizona State to a new program-best 24th in the RPI, now with two Top-20 wins on their resume (No. 14 Rutgers, No. 16 USC).
- It is the first time the Sun Devils have defeated USC at Sun Devil Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium. Only the second time ever that ASU has beaten the Trojans.
- After the Trojans took a 11-10 lead late, the defense held USC scoreless for a critical 11-minute stretch (11:15 – 00:32) in the fourth quarter as ASU went on a 3-0 run.
- Evidence of the impact of Assistant Head Coach for Sports Performance Pete Alosi and Head Athletic Trainer Caitlyn Blanton, as the Sun Devils were the fresher team late despite having played the day before.
- ASU is looking to become the first No. 3 seed to win the Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament. No team has won three games in four days at the event. It would require them to beat a second consecutive Top-20 team.
- The Maroon & Gold held the advantage in two key categories, draw controls and ground balls.
- The Sun Devils won the draw control battle 16-12 and had 23 ground balls compared to USC's 15.
- Eight different Sun Devils collected at least two ground balls.
- Of USC's 19 turnovers, nine were caused by the Sun Devils.
- Emily Glagolev delivered another big-time performance in an important game.
- She finished with six points, scoring two goals and dishing out four assists.
- It is her third 4+ assist performance of the season and 11th of her career.
- Glagolev now has 21 points over her last four games, refusing to let her career end.
- Carley Adams came through with yet another hat trick while adding an assist.
- She now has three or more goals in eight games this season and 23 times in her career.
- Emily Munro reached the 25-goal mark on the season thanks to a timely hat trick.
- She now has five career games with 3+ goals.
- Sophomore attacker Mina Scott was credited with the first game-winning goal of her career, scoring the 13th tally for the Sun Devils.
- Katie Vahle would become the first freshman goalkeeper to win the Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament Championship.
Sophomore defenders Bella and Gigi Gaspar
On how they feel playing in a Pac 12 Championship
"Words can't really put it into how it really is, I mean we've dreamt of this moment this entire year and it's just super exciting that everything we've worked for has come to this moment. I'm just so stoked this is an incredible opportunity for all of us. We've been working so hard and it's really nice to finally get the results we know we can do it and we can finally get the opportunity to."
On the team clicking
"We've definitely had our ups and downs this season as all teams do, we've had a few close games and overtime wins and it just shows how resilient we are as a group. Just being able to power through those last few seconds when it means the most is just a huge testament to the ability of this team."
On Katie Vahle
"Katie's a stud, you wouldn't be able to tell at all that she's a freshman, she brings so much confidence to our defense we all feed off of each other really well and she comes up big when we need her. I'm just so happy to have her by our side."
"We get that question all the time and the only thing you can really say is that she's just a stud, she's here for these big moments and backs us up when we need her most. She's so reliable back there and we're so happy to have her."
On what it takes to beat Stanford
"We've done it once this season, we're one and one right now so it's going to be a good game. They're super talented so we're going to have to come with our A-game and everyone's going to have to click just like we've been doing the past two games."
"Nothing changes, we've been playing how we've been playing, we've been playing Sun Devil lacrosse, if we play 60-plus of Sun Devil nobodies going to come in our way we aren't going to change a thing."
On the bench atmosphere
"From the sideline to the parents I think we have the best fans in the country. We wouldn't be able to win this game without the work from everyone on this team, everybody knows everybody's just as important as the next person up. I think it's really nice to have their support and have them pick us up when we're down. Tim always harps that everyone is just as important whether you're on the field and putting balls in the back of the net or stopping goals or cheering on the sideline, everyone's just as important."
Senior attacker Emily Munro
On what the win means to the team
"It means a lot, we've worked really hard for this moment, every day this entire year every day at practice we show up and compete and every day has gotten us this moment and I'm just really happy."
On the last four minutes
"I think there was a lot of adrenaline going on, our bench was really fired up which really fires us up on the field. The fans were so loud, I think we just really felt it falling into our laps the final minutes and we carried through."
On USC defense
"We've played them twice now and we weren't able to get the win and I think seeing them a third time they threw a different defense at us, a little bit different than we've seen before but we took it really well and we were able to work the shot clock and get some really good looks at the cage."
Head Coach Tim McCormack
On what this win is for the state of Arizona
"It's a really exciting moment for a lot of reasons, obviously advancing but earning another two days to be on our field together, how special is that. We have 16 seniors and they get another two chances to do that, that's amazing. For the local state of the game, I hope this helps for sure, it's been a charge of ours out here since the day we got in here and playing some good lacrosse, I know they're seeing it too and gaining some traction."
On how exciting this game was
"The games the game, it's funny because you coach them all the same. You can't be different in the last 31 seconds of one than you are in the first draw control no matter who it's against no matter what the scenario is, we try to stay consistent and that goes for practice as well. Stay calm definitely try to do that."
On Taylor Pinzone's goal and how valuable she is
"We don't even have to look towards her she steps up and she takes ownership. Like you said she's been in these moments, she's completely prepared for them and the best part is now so has everybody. We've done this, we've been here we've fought in tight games we've come back we've been down a bunch of goals and scraped back and those things all add up."
On the woman down save and Bella's clear
"It was a huge moment, I mean you've got two great players in the mix of that making big-time plays and that's kind of what you expect from that out of those guys when you've worked through it in August. I'm sure to a certain extent it defines some things for us but there's no one moment, it's a collection of many many different situations from the first draw to bring you to that spot."
On how valuable the sideline energy is
"Enormous, our sideline is off the charts and has been since day one. They truly believe and understand that everyone on this team matters so much. They all help prepare on a daily basis, behind the scenes no one see's that stuff but they push our limits constantly, you cannot execute without it. They understand that and when they get moments to cheer on the group and be involved, you see it and you feel it. The stands, parent-wise, have been amazing all year, I can't say enough about our parents support. I feel like it's the best I've seen across the board and I've been in a lot of different areas, different teams, coached different teams, they come ready and they have fun and it's awesome."
On the yellow cards being a point of emphasis
"It will continue to be for the rest of time here, we currently got a bit loose with some of our checking. We play tough we are playing tough lacrosse but we can reign in some of those easy ones for sure.
On playing Stanford
"I think we need to come out here and focus on us, play our game focus on having fun and getting better and playing Sun Devil lacrosse for 60-plus and just getting a full team effort."
No. 3 seed Arizona State takes on No. 1 Stanford in an epic clash on Saturday, May 7 at 12 PM MST. The game will be broadcasted on Pac-12 Network as the Sun Devils go for their third win in four days, this one clinching them an automatic berth into the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.
Saturday, May 7 - Championship
Game 5 (12 PM MST) - No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 3 Arizona State
HOW TO FOLLOW
Every game of the 2022 Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament be featured live on Pac-12 Networks and the Pac-12 Now App. More information can be found at the tournament central page. 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.