TEMPE – The Arizona State University water polo team saw its largest representation at the FINA World Championships in program history to start the month, with one alum scoring a silver medal and five others with ties making significant contributions to their country’s cause. The event was held from July 19 through August 4 in Barcelona, Spain.
Rowie Webster was among the tournament’s top players for the Australian National Team, netting 16 goals in seven games as she helped her team to an appearance in the Championship match against Spain. The Stingers came just shy in the effort but Webster, an Olympian and former Sun Devil All-American was instrumental in the cause.
Webster had 11 steals in the tournament, including three in group play games in victories over New Zealand (15-4) and Uzbekistan (25-2). She also assisted on two goals in the tournament.
Webster was the only athlete with Sun Devil ties to advance to the beyond group play outside of Greece’s Alkistis Benekou. Benekou, who will also appear in the FINA World Junior Championships beginning August 18, competed sparingly for Greece and didn’t log any stats. The incoming freshman did, however, compete in every game as the team would go on to finish sixth overall.
Fellowing incoming freshman Izabella Chiappini was the top goal-scorer for her native Brazil in group play. Chiappini will also represent the country at the World Junior Championships. Chiappini had seven goals in four games for Brazil and carried the team on her back as the squad had just 19 goals total in those games. Despite the overall team performance, the youngster exhibited why she will be a high-level addition to the Sun Devils considering the effort she put forth on the Senior National Team at an international competition.
Goalkeeper Ianeta Hutchinson appeared in two games for New Zealand during group play. Entering her junior year at Arizona State, Hutchinson was the lone current Sun Devil on a FINA roster and tallied eight saves in limited action.
Also competing for New Zealand was former standout and All-American Lynlee Smith. Smith tallied two goals, an assist and a steal over the course of group play.
Kelsey White rounded out those with Sun Devil connections in the tournament as she notched a hat trick against her former teammates in a 13-7 loss to New Zealand as she represented South Africa. White also found the back of the net for South Africa’s tough 16-1 defeat against Webster and the Australians.
ASU’s continued emergence upon the international scene is a testament to the work of head coach Todd Clapper, who will be entering his ninth year at the helm in 2013-14. Clapper has established the Sun Devils as a perennial top-five team and a squad well worth keeping an eye on in the coming season.