ASU water polo positive about the rest of the season

After a challenging weekend at the UC San Diego Triton Invite, the ASU water polo team is proud of its improvements.

The team placed third at the Triton Invite, falling to No. 1 USC in the semifinal match.

Coach Todd Clapper said he was pleased with the team’s performance.

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“It was a much-improved weekend,” Clapper said. “In two weeks, we have made a lot of progress.”

The Sun Devils started off the tournament by defeating No. 19 Hartwick, 13-4, and No. 20 Santa Clara, 19-4.

On the second day, the Sun Devils fell to USC, 10-4, and defeated Loyola Marymount 12-7 to take third place.

Clapper said they were a changed team as opposed to last weekend. Even though it’s still early in the season, the Sun Devils have covered a lot of ground in two weeks.

While Clapper said every member of the team played well, a few performances stood out to him. Redshirt sophomore goalie E.B. Keeve, who had surgery in the offseason, made 14 saves in the first match alone.

“E.B. (Keeve) has really started to get back to form,” Clapper said. “We’re really happy with her performances.”

Clapper said he was also pleased with some of the freshmen’s weekends as well.

Freshman attacker Izabella Chiappini just joined the team in January. Chiappini scored several goals in each game last weekend and Clapper said she is really starting to come along as a player and as a member of the team.

Another freshman, center Alkistis Benekou, played very well and was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation/Kap7 Newcomer of the Week after her performance at the Triton Invite.

Benekou scored 13 goals in the four games at the center position.

Overall, Clapper said it was nice to see the team coming together and performing well as a unit.

The Sun Devils are now 6-3 on their season so far. With plenty of season left, the team is continuing to improve.

Clapper said the team is doing much better against stronger competition teams, such as LMU, but still has things on which to improve.

“The next tier for us is trust and confidence,” he said. “That needs to be gained through practicing the systems a little bit more and having more confidence and executing at a higher level.”

Clapper said the team will continue to work on these things in practice to gain more confidence as the season progresses. ASU faced some tough competition, but played well under the pressure those teams provided.

Next up for the Sun Devils is the UCI Tournament in Irvine, Calif., on Feb. 22 and 23.

Reach the reporter at Megan.Kavy@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @meggiekavy