TEMPE – Several members of the Arizona State University water polo program were honored today as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation announced its 2014 All-MPSF Team and All-Tournament Team.
Junior Ao Gao was named as one of eight players on the 2014 MPSF/KAP7 All-Tournament Team while also earning second-team All-MPSF honors to lead the haul for the Sun Devils, who had four players earn All-Conference accolades.
Gao and E.B. Keeve each earned second-team All-MPSF honors while Alkistis Benekou earned an honorable mention selection. Benekou and fellow freshman phenom Izabella Chiappini each were named to the All-Newcomer team as well.
Gao finished the MPSF tournament with seven goals, including a career-high four goal effort against No. 3 USC in the opening round of the tournament as she helped her team to a 10-9 sudden victory decision for the just the second win over the Trojans in ASU history. It was the second consecutive season she has been named to the All-Tournament team.
On the season, Gao finished with 38 goals and team-leading 32 assists for a grand total of 70 points, good for third on the team and just behind Petra Pardi and Chiappini’s 71 points.
Keeve has 276 saves on the season, far below her school record tally of 377 last season but that also is a reflection of playing fewer games as the sophomore broke her own school record this season with 12.55 saves per game, just edging last year’s total of 12.46 saves per game.
Keeve came up clutch in several important games on the season, including a school-record setting 23-save performance against then-No. 5 UC Irvine earlier this season and a 17-save effort in ASU’s huge sudden victory upset over No. 3 USC at the MPSF Championships.
Benekou and Chiappini were far from wide-eyed freshmen this season as the duo finished the year ranked first and second on the team in goals scored. Benekou has 52 goals thus far on the year, which is good for second in ASU freshman history while Chiappini added 47 more for a tie for third in program lore.
The 99 combined goals by the duo rank only behind the dynamic duo of Addison McGrath and Rowie Webster’s 2006 total of 102 goals as far as the most goals by a freshman tandem in school history.
Chiappini was among ASU’s best all-around players, also adding 24 assists – a total that is good for fourth in ASU freshman history – to go with 22 steals that ranked second on the team.
The Sun Devils are preparing for their first NCAA Tournament appearance and will take on Cal in Los Angeles on Friday, May 9 at 5:15 p.m. PT.