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Lacrosse: Team prepares for final match

Devils to face UA on Saturday

 by Jeremy Cluff
Web Devil

 published on Wednesday, April 14, 2004


The ASU men's lacrosse team looks to knock off the No. 6 ranked University of Arizona Saturday in the final game of the season.

The Sun Devils have won four consecutive games. The team's last defeat came on March 12 against BYU in Provo, Utah.

Since then the Devils have defeated Utah, USC, UC San Diego and St. Mary's College to improve their record to 7-6.

ASU Head Coach Jon Minder said the team was going to have to play very well to win the game.

"For us to have a chance, we're going to have to play mistake free the entire game," the third-year coach said. "We have to take everything we've learned, work hard and execute to have a shot.

"These guys are pumped and excited about this game."

Arizona comes into the game with a record of 11 wins and three losses. They are five and one in the Division A South conference of the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League.

The Sun Devils have a current league record of three wins and three losses.

Senior Goaltender Ethan Furtek will be playing in his last collegiate game. He said the team was ready for the game to begin.

"It's something we've been looking forward to all year," he said. It's exciting to have the chance to go out with a win."

Senior Jake Murphy said that this would be his fourth game against the Wildcats. He said he wanted a victory this time, having come up short the previous three games against them.

"This game means more than any other game every year," he said. "Our defense needs to stay loud and stay tight in the crease. We need to always make sure we're watching backdoor cuts and play a fundamentally strong game."

The Sun Devils are guaranteed fifth place in the division. The top four teams in the division qualify for the playoffs.

"Even though we didn't make the playoffs, if we can pull off the upset everyone will be satisfied with the season," Minder said.

Junior Nick Cicchetti had five goals in the last game. He said the team had progressed a lot this year.

"We have more dedication and more heart this year," he said. "We're a young team that is only going to get better."

Furtek said the key to the game was giving the offense an opportunity to score.

"We have to shut them down enough to give our offense a chance," he said. "We have to be excellent in transition too."

The Sun Devils currently have the third most difficult strength of schedule in the nation. Three of their six losses were to teams ranked in the top five in the country and one was to a top program in Division III.

"Our defense has really improved towards the last half of the season," Minder said. "We weren't playing team defense, but that has improved. We still have a lot of improvements to make to play at a top-tier level."

Sophomore Adam Wirtz said a win would be a step in the right direction for the program at ASU.

"We have to give everything we've got and go from there," he said. "A win would be a definite stepping stone for next year."

Wirtz added that the other teams in the league would take notice if the Sun Devils could pull off the upset.

"They'll see that a team that has been down for quite a while is becoming a competitor," he said.

Sophomore Jeff Pilon is currently one assist behind the league leader. He has 46 on the year.

Pilon said the team was going to give 110 percent.

"I played in high school with a player on the team," the Gilbert native said. "This will be for bragging rights."

Cicchetti said controlling the ball would be crucial.

"Time of possession will be huge," he said. "We need to own ground balls too."

The game will be played at 7:00 at the Gilbert High School Football Field. The school is located a half mile west of Val Vista Drive on Elliot Road in Gilbert. Admission is free.

"We really need support," Minder said. "If people come out they are going to see a prime time rivalry lacrosse game. They will see why the game has come on so quickly."

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