Rebounding from a tough loss to No. 1 UCLA, the ASU water polo team is looking ahead and preparing to play No. 2 Stanford and San Jose State.
Coach Todd Clapper said they’re breaking it down by looking at the season in three phases: tournament, conference play and conference championships.
The No. 4 Sun Devils (19–4, 2–2 MPSF) are continuing to work on aspects on defense while also shifting the focus to offense.
“We need to now start hitting that stage where the defense is consistent, but we’re revving up the offensive part of our game (too),” Clapper said. “We’ve been focused on defense so much so now it’s a matter of making sure we put away our opportunities on offense.”
The team is expecting tough competition this weekend, as they will face teams with endurance, speed and agility.
“This weekend coming up is really big, so everybody’s really working hard and really focused,” senior Mariam Salloum said.
The senior attacker said she expects Stanford to be a very physical and fast team.
“They have great depth and good speed through the bench,” Salloum said.
Sophomore goalkeeper Ianeta Hutchinson agreed.
“They are just a really solid team, so we’re expecting a good fight from them,” she said.
San Jose State will be different from all the teams the Sun Devils have played so far this season.
“They’re not quite as deep or fast (as Stanford), but they’re strong and physical and run a lot of very different things on their offensive game,” Clapper said.
Salloum and Hutchinson agreed that San Jose is more unconventional in its game play.
“We’re just expecting a good driving game from them and we just need to make sure we’re keeping our good position on defense,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also wants to be “a lot more explosive in goal” and said that the team is aiming to improve on thinking and reacting under pressure.
Clapper stressed the importance of controlling and protecting the possession and persistently looking for good opportunities and not letting the other team have anything easy.
“We’re building to where we need to build, we’re competitive and we’re in those games to win it,” Clapper said.
The Sun Devils will hit the road this weekend to play Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., and San Jose State in San Jose, Calif.
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