No. 4 ASU water polo team continues to climb in the NCAA standings.
After taking the No. 4 spot from Cal last weekend, the Sun Devils beat the No. 3 UCLA Bruins Saturday by a final score of 7-6.
When the rankings come out on Wednesday, they will presumably have ASU in that No. 3 spot.
It was the first time in school history the Sun Devils beat the Bruins.
“We’re just so excited,” said coach Todd Clapper. “For our team to dig deep and to find it … was huge.”
Redshirt freshman goalie E.B. Keeve was in net for the Sun Devils, after playing with a concussion last week and was a game-time decision. She showed no effects from the injury and was integral to the win.
The Bruins were able to get on the board first in the opening period.
After blocking a shot, UCLA goalie redshirt sophomore Sami HIll was able to find an open Bruin in transition who beat Keeve on the one-on-one for the game’s first score.
In the second period, UCLA appeared to have found a formula to beat the Sun Devils.
Quick and constant passing put Keeve in bad position and the Bruins netted three goals in the second.
Redshirt senior Alicia Brightwell answered with one more for ASU and the Bruins led 4-2 at the half.
The third period was all ASU.
Allowing just one, they put three into the back of the net, including two by sophomore attacker Petra Pardi.
The turning point in the game came late in the third. A great Bruin pass set up and open shot to which Keeve dove across the net to block it.
“If they had scored that goal, now all of the sudden they are going to kind of stop our momentum a little bit,” Clapper said. “We were able to charge down the other end off of it.”
With six seconds left in the quarter, Keeve found an open sophomore attacker Anna Kartes open in front of the net to tie the game 5-5 heading to the fourth quarter.
With the crowd still excited from the late goal to tie it in the third, Pardi once again found the back of the net with 6:23 left in regulation to give ASU its first lead of the game. She finished with three in the game.
About two minutes later, sophomore attacker Gao Ao scored what turned out to be a crucial insurance point with her second goal of the game. The Bruins managed to put one more in net.
With 30 seconds left in the game and down by one, the Bruins mustered one final charge.
“Everyone was like, ‘All you have to do is block this, and we win,’” Keeve said.
“No pressure,” she added with a laugh.
She didn’t need to block it. The ASU defense did not let a shot on goal and swam out of the pool with a 7-6 victory.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com