Water polo opens MPSF play with win over Aztecs
The ASU water polo team won its first home game of the season against San Diego State on Saturday.
The No. 6 Sun Devils (15-2, 1-0 MPSF) upset the No. 5 Aztecs (11-4, 0-2 MPSF) in a highly anticipated rematch. On Feb. 26, the teams competed and ASU lost 9–8, but ASU was determined for its shot at redemption.
The game was pivotal for junior Shannon Haas as she scored seven goals for the Sun Devils, breaking her career high of five goals in a single game. Her second first quarter goal was her 100th as a Sun Devil.
Sophomore goalkeeper Ianeta Hutchinson gave a powerful performance in the net with a career-high 15 saves.
The Sun Devils lit up the scoreboard early in the first quarter with two goals from Haas and one from senior Annabelle Carter.
SDSU scored one in the first and another in the second, but Haas, Carter and senior Mariam Salloum answered with a goal apiece, keeping ASU in front 6–3 at halftime.
The third quarter remained scoreless until Haas broke the silence and found the back of the net for the fourth time.
In the last quarter of play, the Sun Devils scored almost a goal per minute as Carter and freshman Petra Pardi added one goal each and Haas tacked on three more. The Aztecs scored in the last 16 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to catch ASU.
“We took the wind out of them,” coach Todd Clapper said. “They weren’t able to chip away. We didn’t give them anything easy. More than anything else, it was great for us to be able to get that lead and then have the discipline to keep that lead.”
Haas was excited about the victory and acknowledged it meant a little more because of the friends she has on the opposing team.
“I have a lot of good friends on that team, so it’s kind of good to just shove the ball in the cage and say, ‘Hey, I’m here and you can’t stop me.’”
She explained the team was seeking revenge after falling to SDSU the week prior.
“I think that we came out like a totally different team,” Hutchinson said. “We were settled everywhere and we did a really good job defensively. I think that our defense stepped up and that set a good foundation for our offense.”
Clapper was glad to see the players execute the way they have been practicing, including improving on communication in the water.
He also said this was a breakout game for Haas.
“She was somewhat unguardable,” Clapper said. “She drew a ton of kick outs and scored a lot of goals.”
With the first two goals scored by the Aztecs, Clapper admitted he was nervous it might shake up Hutchinson, but he was proud of her for recovering and showing strength and maturity in the net.
Hutchinson was proud to say they have improved immensely in only a short week.
“I think we always had it in us,” she said.
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