April 14, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. - The fifth-ranked Arizona State water polo team closed out the regular season portion of its schedule on Saturday, notching a pair of wins over No. 16 Hawai'i (11-6) and No. 17 Cal Baptist (12-4).
Both contests followed a similar theme as the Sun Devils (23-5, 4-3 MPSF) found themselves tied at 3-3 after the first quarter of both games before coming through with dominant defensive efforts in the final three quarters.
In the first game of the day against Hawai'I (7-12, 0-7 MPSF), the Sun Devils used a 4-1 scoring run over the second and third periods to break open the game.
Annabelle Carter led the way with four goals while Ianeta Hutchinson made 13 saves. Carter was one of three Sun Devils who found the back of the net multiple times as Alicia Brightwell and Ao Gao also scored two goals each.
"I think there were some really good individual efforts and that is the main thing," ASU head coach Todd Clapper said of the win over Hawai'i. "Obviously Annabelle Carter had a really great game. I thought [Alicia] Brightwell had a great game and I thought there were moments when others shined as well. It was great that people stepped up when we need them to score some goals so we could get that win."
Carter scored two of her goals during the back-and-forth first quarter in which neither squad led by more than one goal.
Defense would be the dominant theme of the second quarter as neither team was able to penetrate the other's defense for the first seven-plus minutes of the period. The Sun Devils would seize the momentum over the last three minutes of the half as Gao (2:48) and Petra Pardi (1:44) scored goals in a 64-second span to give ASU a 5-3 lead at the break.
Carter's third goal 2:19 into the third quarter extended ASU's lead to 6-3, but Hawai'i would come back with a goal of its own a little more than five minutes later to trim ASU's advantage to two goals. That's as close as the Rainbow Wahine would get as ASU would score five of the game's next six goals to put the game out of reach.
Once again the Sun Devils would engage in an exchange of scores over the first eight minutes before settling down.
Brightwell, who scored ASU's first goal of the game, added two more in the second quarter during an ASU flurry in which it scored three times in a little more than three minutes to take a 6-3 advantage.
"It was a lot better team effort after the first quarter," Clapper said. "We weren't playing aggressively [and] were kind of sloppy at both ends. Giving up three goals in the first quarter wasn't acceptable, but they responded in the next three quarters and did a much better job. They swam and countered the way they were supposed to."
ASU's string of consecutive goals would reach six in the third quarter as Haas, Carter and Brightwell combined to give ASU a commanding 9-3 lead.
Mariam Salloum, who scored a goal in ASU's win over Hawai'i, and Kertes both scored in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the win.
"The passes were nice against Cal Baptist," Clapper said. "Everyone was seeing the pool really well. Defensively we weren't late after the first quarter and really made it difficult for them to get any good looks at the goal."
Hutchinson was part of that defensive effort as she accounted for 15 saves in the win.
Tied for the school's single-season record for most wins at the start of the day, the 2012 Sun Devils now have sole possession of the record with Saturday's victories.
"It is really exciting [to break the record]," Clapper said. "I'm really proud of this team and what they have done. They have stepped up to every challenge that I've offered. It's nice to break the record, but it's really a testament to their hard work and a testament to how well they get along as team."
ASU's 23 combined goals on Saturday also added to its single-season school record for most goals, which now totals 345.
Saturday's games were the final at home for seniors Carter, Salloum and Kelsey White. The three were honored in a ceremony prior to ASU's game against Hawai'i.
The Sun Devils return to action in two weeks when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif., for the MPSF Championships.