TEMPE, Ariz. – Petra Pardi had three goals and E.B. Keeve made 17 saves as the No. 6 Arizona State University water polo team upset No. 4 Cal, 6-5 on Saturday.
After dropping contests to top-ranked Stanford and No. 8 San Jose State in the Bay Area last weekend, the Sun Devils (14-8, 2-4 MPSF) came back with one of their finest performances of the season.
“It was awesome,” said Sun Devil head coach Todd Clapper of Saturday’s win. “We were a bit concerned with our intensity the last few games. We had a good week of practice and we came out and responded well.”
The Sun Devils’ determination to win their final home game of the season could be seen on both ends of the pool as they scored the game’s first three goals to immediately set the tone.
Defensively, ASU held Cal (17-6, 2-3) to a season low in scoring thanks in large part to Keeve, who Clapper said “did an amazing job with all of her blocks.”
Izabella Chiappini gave the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead with her 40th goal of the season, which came three minutes into the game. Later in the quarter, Padri would score two goals in a span of 2:09 to increase ASU’s lead to 3-0.
Cal would net the next two goals as the Bears cut ASU’s lead to 3-2 with 6:54 remaining in the second quarter.
Sensing a shift in momentum, the Sun Devils would dig in and not allow Cal to score for the remainder of the half. Over the same period of time ASU would score two goals of its own – Liz Kreek (4:53) and Ao Gao (:43) – to take a 5-2 advantage into the half.
Neither team could find the back of the net over the first five-plus minutes of the third quarter. The Bears would get the first goal of the second half to get within two, ending a scoreless drought of more than 12 minutes.
Pardi would respond with her third goal of the game 15 seconds later to give ASU a 6-3 lead with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter.
Keeve would make nine saves – several of them coming as a result of a spectacular individual effort – in the second half. She and the rest of the Sun Devil defense helped hold Cal scoreless for nearly the last five minutes of the game after the Bears cut ASU’s lead to 6-5 with 4:57 remaining.
The Sun Devils return to action in two weeks (April 25-27) when they travel to Los Angeles for the 2014 MPSF Championships.