ASU water polo reflects on possible first ever NCAA-tournament season
The ASU water polo team’s 2014 season is almost over.
The Sun Devils head to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships Friday, and if they do well enough, they will head to the team’s first-ever NCAA tournament in program history.
The team started off the season winning a majority of its games at the preseason tournaments.
The Sun Devils won three of five games at the Bakersfield tournament and three of four games at the UC San Diego tournament.
Junior attacker Petra Pardi said she believes the team had a more solid season compared to last year and the overall experience has been much different.
“We had a lot of ups and downs, but I feel like we still had a strong season,” she said.
After the UC San Diego tournament, the Sun Devils competed at the UC Irvine tournament and won three of four games there as well.
When the regular season began, ASU lost two tough games against USC, 15-6, and UCLA, 11-7.
The Sun Devils won all of their games at the ASU Invitational but lost two more in a row when regular play resumed.
The team fell to Stanford 14-4 and San Jose State in a close 7-5 battle.
The team ended its regular season by defeating California 6-5 and is preparing for MPSF championships.
Pardi said the team was not surprised by its results this year.
“The offseason was really strong for us,” she said. “I feel like we expected ourselves to be great.”
The team did lose some key games this season but is not out of the running for an at-large bid for the NCAAs.
Pardi said that last year, the team was not as confident as it is this year.
She said they didn’t expect themselves to do as well as they did.
“It was a surprise that we upset such great teams,” Pardi said. “We beat Cal both times we played them and upset UCLA, which was unexpected.”
Last year, ASU had its best season in water polo program history, but Pardi said this year’s team has come further.
“We have a really talented team,” she said. “We believe we can go further than last year.”
Redshirt sophomore goalie E.B. Keeve has performed very well this season and was named MPSF Player of the Week last week.
Keeve received this honor after recording a career-high 17 saves in the Sun Devils' last game against Cal.
She now has 238 saves for the entire season, which is seventh in ASU water polo history.
Keeve averages 12.53 saves per game, which is the highest in the conference.
Pardi said she is a key part of the team’s success this year.
The Sun Devils head to Los Angeles on Friday to face USC in the first round of the MPSF championships.
Reach the reporter at Megan.Kavy@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @meggiekavy