The ASU water polo team lost 9–7 in a tough match to USC on Saturday at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.
The No. 4 Sun Devils (20-4, 2-2 MPSF) didn’t go down without a fight, as they battled through each quarter against the No. 3 Trojans (14-3, 3-1 MPSF).
ASU got off to a rough start as USC took an early 2–0 lead.
Freshman Ao Gao answered with the first goal for ASU but not without a response from the Trojans. Junior Shannon Haas closed the first quarter with a goal putting ASU behind 3–2.
Coach Todd Clapper said there were mistakes early in the game. He explained it simply wasn’t a good start for ASU because the team missed shots and USC scored a third of their points in the first period alone.
The Sun Devils turned up the heat early in the second quarter with goals from Haas and senior Kelsey White. Soon after, the Trojans answered with two goals, but Haas tacked on her third to tie the game at five going into halftime.
Haas’s third goal in the second quarter marked her fourth hat trick of the season.
“It’s cool, but I’m just in there to put the goals away for my team,” Haas said. “When they need me, I try to step up and I have to put the ball in the back of the net.”
The third quarter was a neck-and-neck battle in the pool as the Sun Devils and Trojans added goals back and forth on the scoreboard. Freshmen Anna Kertes and Gao netted two goals, but USC did the same.
The final quarter was stagnant until the Trojans broke the silence with two goals, defeating the Sun Devils 9–7.
Both Haas and White agreed the team played well defensively, but echoed Clapper’s observations that holding position needs to be stronger, and unnecessary fouling could have been avoided.
After the loss, the Sun Devils reflected on how far they’ve come and where they want to go.
“It was a game this time,” Haas said. “It wasn’t just a shutout and it was an exciting game for everyone to watch.”
White agreed with Haas.
“We were good at keeping them for four quarters,” she said. “We held them to the fourth quarter, which we’ve never really done with USC, so we’re really, really proud of that.”
While Clapper was disappointed in the loss, he is focused on the big picture and the rest of the ASU season.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to get better and continue just to be the best team we can at the end of April and go into the tournament good enough to win it.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com