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Courtesy: Steve Rodriguez
ASU Water Polo Drops Tough Decision to Cal in NCAA Tourney Debut
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 05/09/2014
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LOS ANGELES – The fifth-seeded Arizona State University water polo team was unable to take advantage of its chances on offense as it dropped its opening round game of the 2014 NCAA Water Polo Tournament to fourth-seeded Cal, 7-4, on Friday evening.

The Sun Devils (15-11 overall) were making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tourney and entered the weekend ranked fourth in the country in the polls.  Each of the last five games between the two teams had been decided by a goal, with ASU going 3-2 in those games.

While Friday’s contest was hotly contested, the defensive battle favored the Golden Bears (20-8 overall), who held ASU to just a single goal in the second half and stifled any chance of a Sun Devil rally.

After falling behind in the first half, ASU had its best chance to really heat things up when trailing 6-4 with 3:28 remaining in the game. A pass to center drew an exclusion on Cal’s Kelly McKee, giving ASU a 6-on-5 powerplay and a chance to cut the deficit to one.

Some decent ball movement found Izabella Chiappini with a relatively open shot from about five meters out, but the freshman – making her first and only shot of the entire game – flicked the ball off the left goal post and back into Cal possession.

ASU wasn’t out of the game yet as a quick stop on the defensive end gave ASU a chance with about 2:30 left in the game.  A field block by Cal resulted in a long rebound opportunity and a mad sprint to the loose ball by ASU’s Liz Kreek and Cal’s Roser Tarrago. Tarrago, the fastest player on Cal’s roster and a perfect four-for-four on opening sprints on the day, got to the ball first and found an open Dora Antal streaking down the pool.  Antal tossed a ball over an ASU defender right in front of the goal and Tiera Schroeder struck gold to essentially seal the game with 2:02 remaining for Cal to send ASU into the consolation bracket.

Liz Kreek had two goals for the Sun Devils while Ao Gao and Petra Pardi each scored one each.

The loss diminished a fantastic game by E.B. Keeve, who held Cal scoreless for 13 minutes in the second half as she logged six of her 14 saves on the day in the third quarter to continue to keep ASU in the game.

Cal got on the board first in the game, scoring on their first possession of the game on MPSF scoring champion Dora Antal’s only goal of the game.  McKee added another three minutes later to put Cal up 2-0 before Gao got ASU on the board to make it 2-1 after the first period.

Defensive miscues proved to be ASU’s undoing in the second quarter.  After another Cal goal on the first possession of the second, the Golden Bears would take a 4-1 lead with 5:12 remaining after retaining possession on three straight balls that hit the cross bar or goal post, finally taking advantage of their theird opportunity.

Pardi answered with a powerplay goal with 4:41 left but back-to-back plays featuring miscommunications between Keeve and her defenders led to open net goals as Cal would go on to take a 6-3 lead into the break.

ASU would make it 6-4 with 3:34 left in the third on Kreek’s second goal of the game, but could not figure out Cal’s defense outside of that play.

The Sun Devils can still finish the tournament as high as fifth if they each of their next two games.  That path starts tomorrow at 1:45 p.m. PT as the team takes on eighth-seeded Indiana for a chance to advance to the fifth-place game.  The game will be streamed live via the ncaa.com website.

Game 4 • 5:15 p.m. • Friday, May 9

[4] California vs. [5] Arizona State

 

1

2

3

4

FINAL

ASU

1

2

1

0

4

CAL

2

4

0

1

7

SCORING:

ASU – Liz Kreek 2, Ao Gao, Petra Pardi.

CAL – Roser Tarrago 2, Dora Antal, Kelly McKee, Emily Loughlin, Anna Illes, Tiera Schroeder.

SAVES:

ASU – E.B. Keeve 14.

CAL – Madeline Trabucco 5.

Arizona State Sun Devils Water Polo
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