No. 4 ASU women's water polo falls 13-5 to No. 3 UCLA

UCLA's unyielding offense proved too much for the Sun Devils in their loss Saturday afternoon

The No. 4 ASU women's water polo team fell 13-5 to No. 3 UCLA Saturday afternoon at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe, Arizona. Despite the Sun Devils' success on offense, the Bruins' high pressure offense proved to be a challenge. 

UCLA scored first with redshirt senior Alys Williams adding a power play goal after an exclusion penalty on Claudia Abad. Abad responded to the Bruins' fast paced play with a goal of her own with a minute left in the opening quarter.

The second quarter started off with early goals by the Bruins, as they scored within the first twenty seconds of play. Abad scored her second goal of the game, but the Sun Devils' usually stellar defense was unable to hold back the strength of UCLA. 

Freshman Bente Rogge tried to stop UCLA's run with a goal of her own with just under four minutes left in the quarter. Despite redshirt junior goalkeeper Mia Rycraw's attempts, she allowed four goals in the second period to give UCLA a 7-3 lead heading into the half.

The Bruins opened the floodgates in the third period, going on a 3-0 run. 

In the fourth period, Rycraw wasn’t able to hold back the Bruins, as they knocked in another goal to begin the fourth. The Sun Devils' scoreless streak in the second half was saved by junior Alkistis Benekou in the fourth period. Benekou’s goal sparked a short run by ASU, as sophomore Maud Koopman scored her first goal of the game with just under five minutes left in the match.

Despite their attempt at a comeback with multiple shots on goal by Benekou, Abad, and others, the Sun Devils ultimately fell to the Bruins, 13-5.

“We created a lot of opportunities on offense which was good,” Abad said after the game. “On defense the counter-attack was really bad and that’s where we were lost.”

Rycraw echoed Abad, saying the team needs to work harder on their defensive plays as UCLA’s press defense was too heavy to handle.  Rycraw also said the team is now focusing on next week's game against San Jose State University.

“They’ve been really physical in the past so we’re expecting that same physicality,” Rycraw said. “We’re going to be focusing more on our game and perfecting our front court press, six on fives and all of those things.”

Despite the disappointing outcome, head coach Todd Clapper said that there are some positives to today's result.

“We’re getting there,” Clapper said. “I’m happy with where we’re at, obviously everybody wanted a different result today but we’re happy with the progress that we’re making and we’re just going to keep working at it.”

The Sun Devils hope to turn things around Saturday, April 15, at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, where they will play their final game of the regular season against No. 16 San Jose State University at 1 p.m.


Reach the reporter at klbroder@asu.edu or follow @KellyB1459 on Twitter.

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