Feb. 8, 2013
TEMPE - The #5 Arizona State University continues the 2013 campaign with a big weekend of competition at the Triton Invitational in San Diego, Calif. Ten of the 16 teams in action are ranked in the top-20 nationally in this week’s CWPA Varsity Top 20 Poll. The Sun Devils open the tournament at 8 a.m. PT as the squad takes on Marist. The team will then compete against Loyola Marymount or host UC San Diego at 1:20 p.m. or 2:40 p.m., barring results from the morning games.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Arizona State will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed and will be competing out of Group B to start the competition. ASU opens on Saturday against Marist at 8 a.m. PT. The Sun Devils will then take on the winner of the matchup between #15 LMU and #19 UCSD to advance out of group or will take on the loser of that contest in the consolation side of the bracket should they fall to Marist.
LAST TIME OUT - UCSB Winter Invite
The #5 Sun Devil water polo team wrapped up its opening weekend of competition in 2013 with an unblemished 6-0 record following victories against Concordia and #6 UC Irvine on Sunday as the squad concluded the UCSB Winter Invitational in Santa Barbara, Calif. Over the course of the weekend, ASU outscored the opposition 67-36 and scored in double digits in all but on game. Senior Alicia Brightwell had 17 goals over the weekend while redshirt freshman goalkeeper E.B. Keeve was sensational with 66 saves (11 saves per game) with five games with double digits in the category. Thirteen different Sun Devils scored on the weekend while ASU beat five ranked teams in six games.
FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
Senior Alicia Brightwell took home the MPSF scoring title last year with 75 goals on the season, good for the second-highest single season tally in school history. Brightwell’s 2.78 goals per game were also tops in the conference and her 18 games with three or more goals easily paced the Sun Devils on the season. Brightwell matched a school record with seven goals to lead ASU past San Diego State for fifth-place at the MPSF Championships last year and she became the school’s first and only First Team All-American since Addison McGrath in 2008. It took a grand total of one weekend to show that there doesn’t look to be any sort of sophomore slump. Brightwell scored 16 goals in five games at the UCSB Winter Invite to help lead the Sun Devils to a 6-0 record to open the season. She was named the MPSF Player of the Week for the performance, making it the fourth time in her career she had earn such honors.
LUCKY NUMBER 7
Junior Shannon Haas had perhaps the best performance in the nation against the San Diego State last season as she scored a career-high seven goals from the center position to help ASU to the 12-3 upset. Haas’ seven goals tied a school record with ASU greats Addison McGrath and Lynlee Smith (and later with Alicia Brightwell also) and was the most for a single game among all MPSF student-athletes last season until Brightwell scored seven in the season finale. Haas matched her career high with 47 goals on the year and her 128 goals sit fifth in ASU history and she is well within range of moving into the No. 2 spot in that category this season. Haas earned a third-team All-American selection from the ACWPA at the conclusion of the season. With 10 goals in five games at the UCSB Winter Invite to open 2013, Haas moved into a tie for third all-time in ASU history with 138 career goals with recently departed Mariam Salloum. Haas is now just 17 goals behind Lynlee Smith for second all-time in the record books.
KEEVE-IN’ IT REAL
A redshirt freshman goalkeeper making her first career start at the DI level might make even the most stone-faced of coaches a bit nervous when it comes to opening a season. Turns out the Sun Devils had nothing to worry about in E.B. Keeve, who was phenomenal in her debut in the cage at the UCSB Winter Invite. Keeve stopped 66 shots while playing every minute in the team’s effort at the UCSB Invite. Keeve had five games with double-digit saves while averaging 11 saves her game. Her 6.00 goals against average was stellar and she was phenomenal in allowing just four goals and posting 12 saves in a 5-4 victory over #6 UC Irvine. The performance garnered her MPSF Newcomer of the Week accolades and helped the Sun Devils to a sweep of the weekly honors following their performance two weekends ago.
GAO GETTING IT DONE
With two Olympiads and a year of DIvision I water polo under her belt, sophomore Gao Ao could be primed for a breakout sophomore campaign. The Beijing native was cool as the other side of the pillow in a tight game against UC Irvine, scoring two important goals in a 5-4 victory over the #6 Anteaters. Gao had a hat trick against Cal Baptist to open the season and her seven goals this year are currently fourth on the team. The two-meter defender also had eight assists on the weekend, tying Anna Kertes for the team lead.
NOT IN OUR ‘NETA
Goalkeeper Ianeta Hutchinson continues to rise the all-time saves list and she was a large part of ASU’s success last season season. Hutchinson’s 282 saves on the season were good for the second-best single season total in school history and gave her 422 for her career, already good for second on ASU’s all time list. In addition, Hutchinson posted a career high save percentage of 57 percent while allowing a career-low 6.80 goals per game, good for eighth on ASU’s single-season list and her 10.07 saves per game this year were good for third in school history. Hutchinson injured herself in the fall, however, and will miss the first couple weeks of action for ASU - opening the door for redshirt freshman E.B. Keeve to strut her stuff.
Freshman Anna Kertes established herself as one of the top freshman in the nation with her play in 2012. Kertes’ 47 goals were the second-most among freshmen in the conference and tied the second-highest tally in ASU history among freshmen. Her four first-half goals against No. 2 Stanford last season kept the Sun Devils in that game and the Hungarian notched two or more goals in 11 games last season. Kertes would eventually earn a spot on the MPSF All-Newcomer Team to conclude the season. Kertes showed a new facet to her game at the UCSB Winter Invite, logging eight assists in five games - nearly matching the 12 she posted in the entirety of last season.
PARDI IN THE USA
Alongside Kertes, fellow Hungarian freshmen Petra Pardi also established herself as someone who can be a force at the center position as the season goes on. Three times on the season, Pardi notched five goals in a game - the only freshmen to ever accomplish the feat. In addition, only ASU great Lynlee Smith had ever scored five or more goals in a game on three separate occasions in one season before Pardi. Pardi’s 30 goals last year ranked 10th in ASU freshmen history. Pardi was solid to open the 2013 season, as her nine goals are currently third on the team behind Brightwell and Haas. She had three in a 10-7 victory over top-20 ranked UCSB.
IN THE RANKINGS
In the latest national CWPA Coaches Poll, the Sun Devils sit fifth in the nation and have remained in the top-5 for almost the entirety of last season and the first couple weeks of the current campaign. ASU spent four weeks at the No. 4 position last year, easily it’s longest streak at the spot in school history and finished the season ranked No. 5 in the country - the highest placement in school history.
DEFENSE WINS BALL GAMES
Defense will win you games in just about any sport and water polo is no exception. While the Sun Devils dominated their opponents on the offensive side last year - outscoring the opposition 376-211 on the year - it was a stifling defense that has helped pace that run. ASU forced 177 steals on the year while giving up just 100 turnovers. ASU didn’t allow a single double-digit scoring opponent at the UCSB Winter Invite, outscoring the opposition 67-36 over six games. ASU had a solid 55 steals in six games with Alicia Brightwell and Abby Kerth each scoring in double digits in the category. The team did give up 48 turnovers, however - a number they will look to cut back on this weekend.
BUT OFFENSE DOESN’T HURT
For the biggest difference between last year’s team and the previos ASU squad, one need look no further than the goals scored category. Through the entire season last year (MPSF Championships included), the Sun Devils notched just 247 goals. In 2012, ASU found the back of the net 376 times - easily good enough for the school record in the category. ASU is averaging a solid 11.2 goals per game to open the season thus far and has scored in double digits in all but one contest.
A LOOK BACK - 2012 SEASON
The 2012 campaign was a monumental year for the Sun Devil water polo team. The squad set a new school record with 25 wins on the season and the team’s fifth-place finish at the MPSF Championships was tops in school history. The team tallied 376 goals on the year, also good for a new school record and the high-powered offense tallied 15 or more goals on nine separate occasions on the year. The team earned its first MPSF victory since 2008 while five different student-athletes scored 40 or more goals on the year for the first time in school history.