The Arizona State Men's Lacrosse team opens play next weekend with a battle against the California Golden Bears. The Sun Devils are ranked No. 2 in the Men's College Lacrosse Association Preseason Coaches Poll, and return a number of talented players.
We had the chance to talk with Arizona State captain Payson Clark, a 2012 Second-Team All-Conference Attack who led the Sun Devils in goals last season with 22. Clark discusses the team's high expectations, the new recruits, and of course, the rivalry with the Arizona Wildcats.
Name: Payson Clark
HOS: What does it mean to you to be named a captain?
PC: It's a big responsibility and a big honor, it just shows that the whole team trusts you and wants to follow you and your words. It's a cool thing.
HOS: The team is ranked No. 2 in the preseason rankings, do you think you can live up to the expectations?
PC: I know we can. I know that we can surpass those expectations, we just don't really know what's out there. Preseason polls really don't mean too much to us.
HOS: What are the team goals heading into the season?
PC: We just want to take it one game at a time, stay focused, and go hard every minute of the game. That's really what we have to do.
HOS: Do you have any specific individual goals?
PC: Not really, just stay positive and keep this team in it. Keep our heads in it the whole time, that's my goal.
HOS: You're not going for the 50-point season?
PC: (Laughs) I'll let my playing do the talk in that case.
HOS: How are the team's new recruits mixing in so far?
PC: You know, they have some positive attitudes and they're really excited to be a part of this team. They listen to what we want to do, they react quickly, and it's really good to have them here. They're meshing great and our third line of midfielders is all freshman and they're really going to step up this year. I'm excited for them.
HOS: Any initiation you have planned for the freshmen?
PC: (Laughs) No, no, not really. There's nothing we can really do. We'll mess around with them, but nothing too serious. No hazing out here.
HOS: The last game you play in the regular season is against the Arizona Wildcats. How big of a lacrosse rivalry do the two schools have?
PC: It's a huge one. Back in the day, they used to kick our butts like every year. When Coach Malone (Arizona State Head Coach) came in, it's been the other way around every year. It's an old tradition.
HOS: What's the game you guys are most looking forward to this year (excluding U of A)?
PC: If it can't be U of A, we're looking forward to playing Chapman. They are pretty much our other rival. They're our conference rival, it always comes down to us two in the end in Santa Barbara and it's a heated game when we play them. It's always emotional so I'm really looking forward to that game.
HOS: What's the team's biggest strength heading into this year?
PC: Our strength is our chemistry. I mean, we've got guys who were playing in the National Tournament two years ago still starting on this team. There's probably about seven or eight of us so our chemistry is probably our biggest strength this year.
HOS: What part of the game does the team need to improve on the most?
PC: We can always improve on our communication, we can always know what's going on. We can improve on our confidence, that's something that's built up more and more every practice and hopefully it can keep going up.
Finish this sentence: ASU Lacrosse is my life!