ASU Women's water polo places fifth in the 2017 MPSF Championship

After falling to Cal on Friday afternoon, the Sun Devils picked things up with a rout of CSU Bakersfield on Sunday

No. 4 ASU water polo fell victim to a difficult schedule en route to a fifth-place finish at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship this weekend on the campus of UCLA. Despite splitting the weekend against two ranked opponents with a win on Sunday, the Sun Devils were defeated on Friday by a Pac-12 foe, forcing them into the fifth place game. 

Game 1: ASU falls to No. 5 California, 9-7

The Sun Devils took on No. 5 Cal in a top-five matchup out of the Pac-12, and the action lived up to the billing.

Both teams each found the back of the net early, with Sun Devil scores by junior Kayla Casas and freshman Bente Rogge knocking in their first goals of the match, respectively. The Golden Bears would respond with goals three goals of their own to grab their first lead.

With minutes remaining in the first half, redshirt junior Alkistis Benekou would fire her first goal of the match, leaving ASU and Cal tied at three apiece heading into the break.

Both teams traded jabs midway through the third period to bring the tie to five on both sides, but Cal’s stellar defense would prove too much for the Sun Devils. Despite a goal from ASU junior Lena Mihailovic and Rogge’s final tally of the match, Cal would hold the Sun Devils to just two goals over the final 15 minutes of the game and outscore them six to four down the stretch.

Despite Mia Rycraw’s remarkable performance in net — recording ten saves for the game — the Sun Devils ultimately fell, 9-7, in the opening round of the MPSF Championship Tournament.

Game 2: No. 4 ASU routs Roadrunners, 13-4

The Sun Devils returned to the pool on Sunday afternoon in a battle with No. 22 CSU Bakersfield for fifth place in the 2017 MPSF Championship.

ASU struck early with a goal by PJ Allin in the opening minutes. The Sun Devils kept up the pressure on CSUB after back-to-back goals within three minutes of play from sophomore Maud Koopman and redshirt junior Alkistis Benekou.

The Roadrunners responded with an immediate goal from redshirt senior Nicola Barrett. Yet despite CSUB's multiple shot attempts, the Sun Devils proved too quick on offense, scoring an additional two goals near the end of the opening period. But with moments left in the first quarter, the Roadrunners used a power-play goal goal to cut the Sun Devil lead to 6-4.

CSUB was first to strike in the second quarter of play, but Benekou answered with her third goal of the day for ASU. The rest of the half remained scoreless for the Roadrunners as junior goalkeeper CQ Mia Rycraw produced multiple saves to keep ASU’s lead intact.

Things remained positive for the Sun Devils as the game wore on. ASU was able to extend its lead with shots by Rogge and senior Stephanie Contreras. Both of those players found the back of the net within 30 seconds of one another in the third quarter.

The Roadrunners struck first in the final quarter of play after eight minutes without a goal. The score once again came from CSUB's Barrett — her third goal of the match. That goal sparked the Sun Devils, however, to knock in two more blows to the Roadrunner's net, essentially ending the match.

After four quarters of play, ASU would run down the Roadrunners 13-4 to take fifth place at the 2017 MPSF Championship. ASU placed fifth in last season’s competition as well.

The Sun Devils will now await their NCAA Tournament fate with the Women's Water Polo Selection show scheduled for 5 p.m. MST Monday on to be streamed live on NCAA.com


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

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