ASU water polo defeats California at final home game

The ASU water polo team ended its regular season on a high note by defeating No. 4 California 6-5 Saturday.

The game marked the last home game and the last conference game of the season for the Sun Devils.

Junior attacker Petra Pardi led the team with 3 goals.

Pardi credits all of her goals to her team and the effort they put forth together.

“We had a great team chemistry,” she said. “Everybody was on the same page and everybody really wanted to prove that this team is incredibly talented.”

Pardi said the team was “feisty” and took the game play-by-play rather than thinking of what could happen later on.

Cal gained possession of the ball first in each of the four quarters, but the Sun Devils did not let that affect them.

Freshman attacker Izabella Chiappini stole the ball from Cal on the first possession of the game to score a quick goal and give ASU the early 1-0 lead.

Pardi followed suit and scored two goals to push ASU up 3-0.

The Sun Devils gave up one goal in the first quarter off with a goal by freshman driver Anna Illes of Cal to end the quarter 3-1 ASU.

Cal was first to score in the second quarter but ASU soon followed with another goal by junior utility Liz Kreek.

Junior two-meter defender Ao Gao finished out the last 43 seconds of the quarter with a goal to put ASU up 5-2 at the end of the first half.

After taking several shots on goal during the first part of the third quarter, Pardi scored another goal with 4:25 left to put ASU up 6-4.

An ASU exclusion in the final seconds of the quarter allowed Cal to score and end the third down by two.

Cal scored again off a goal by freshman driver Roser Tarrago with 4:57 left in the game.

ASU held Cal 6-5 for the remainder of the game to get the win at its home pool.

Redshirt sophomore goalie E.B. Keeve had a strong game for the Sun Devils, saving some tough shots by Cal’s offense.

Keeve said the game was very well played and she’s very happy with the results.

“We kept the intensity up the entire time and everyone did their part,” she said. “People did above and beyond what I even expected them to do. Everyone went all out.”

Keeve said the team knew how important the game was for them in order to still have a chance at making it to the NCAA tournament.

The team still has a chance to receive a bid and Keeve said that opportunity means everything to the ASU water polo program.

Head coach Todd Clapper said Keeve’s performance was “fantastic” and that she saved the team in some crucial moments throughout the game.

Clapper said he is felling much better about the upcoming MPSF Championships than he did after last weekend’s games against Stanford and San Jose State.

“We’re on the right track and I think they understand now,” he said. “There’s a good possibility of the NCAA tournament for the first time.”

He said the team focused on intensity in practice and the hope and outcome of practice was a “well-oiled team.”

Clapper said the team is highly motivated to perform well in the upcoming weeks and the continued focus will be intensity.

The Sun Devils will have a short amount of time off before taking on the MPSF Championships, which take place April 25-27 in Los Angeles.

Reach the reporter at megan.kavy@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @meggiekavy