Water polo finishes sixth at Irvine Invitational

It was a weekend filled with tough competition for the ASU water polo team at the UC Irvine Invitational in California, as the No. 8 Sun Devils (6-5) took home sixth place in the 16-team tournament.

The Sun Devils squared off against No. 9 Cal State Northridge in their first matchup of the weekend. The first quarter ended in a 1-1 tie, but ASU would score four goals or more in the next three quarters to cap off an impressive 14-4 victory over the Matadors.

“The win against Northridge was great,” ASU coach Todd Clapper said. “We were very organized on our attack, and I’m very pleased that offensively we put up 14 goals against a very strong goalkeeper.”

Sophomore attacker Annabelle Carter led the way for the Sun Devils with four goals, and seven different Sun Devils scored at least one goal in the game.

“It was great to see different players step up when it was their opportunity,” Clapper said. “It speaks to the work ethic of all the players and the depth we have this year.”

With its victory over Cal State Northridge, ASU went on to battle the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal, which was fresh off a 15-3 thrashing of UC San Diego in its first-round game. Stanford jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and never looked back, going on to win 15-8.

“Stanford is a very strong and experienced team, but we lost a bit of our composure when the pressure came,” Clapper said. “We will continue to work on being better prepared for those situations against the stronger teams.”

In their third game of the weekend, the Sun Devils took on the Michigan Wolverines. After leading 3-1 at the end of the first quarter, ASU jumped out to an 8-1 lead with a five-goal second quarter and eventually downed UM by a final score of 11-6.  Freshman goalie Amanda Young shut out the Wolverines in the second quarter and would finish with 12 saves in the game.

A 2-1 tournament record earned the Sun Devils a chance to compete in the fifth-place game against Hawaii in a rematch from Feb. 6, where Hawaii handed ASU an 11-7 loss in the Stanford Invitational.

The Sun Devils took a quick 3-2 lead in the first quarter, but Hawaii proceeded to score seven more goals. Despite two scores from ASU in the final quarter, UH held on to beat the Sun Devils 9-7.

“We came out great against Hawaii and controlled the game for a while,” Clapper said. “We had some lapses in judgement on defense that got them back into it, and then they eventually pulled ahead. Overall, sixth place was a good result, but we are not satisfied. We will continue to make adjustments and improve.”

Senior attacker Bonnie Miles and Carter each had two goals on the game. With Carter’s two goals, she finished with nine goals in the four tournament games.

Reach the reporter at gregory.dillard@asu.edu