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ASU Water Polo: Sun Devils fall short to top ranked USC

(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)

Coming into today’s match-up, USC was ranked No.1 in the country, and they proved it beating Arizona State 8-3 with an impressive offensive performance.

The Trojans were the first to attack in the first period. Junior 2-meter Brigitta Games was able to find the net on a high point shot establishing the early lead.

After another USC goal, Arizona State was able to get their first goal courtesy of Ao Gao. The redshirt senior defender from China fired a rocketing shot to find the top shelf of the net to make the score 2-1 with 2:30 to go in the first.

“We wanted to start off being aggressive on offense,” Gao said. “They told me to shoot the first shot I did. It was all just part of the game plan early on.”

USC would come right back to attack after the Gao goal. A lobbing pass from Trojan driver Mackenzie Flath found 2-meter Avery Peterson for the go-ahead dunking goal.

Arizona State then answered right back from an inside drive. Senior attacker Daisy Carter was able to receive the ball inside and off a tip from a USC defender, the Sun Devils were able to take it to 3-2. That would be Carter’s 12th goal of the season.

From then on, it was all USC.

The Trojans were able to score two goals right after the halftime whistle. Junior driver Stephania Haralabidis got the point shot increasing the lead to 4-2.

After the Haralabitis goal, USC took control. The ultimate key for them was on defense. The inside match-ups and five-meter line pressure forced the Sun Devils to bleed out the shot clock.

Despite the ASU offense struggling to move against the stout Trojan defense, head coach Todd Clapper had positive remarks about his Sun Devil squadron.

“There was a lot of good things that happened,” Clapper said. “It was a good step-up for where we’ve been. We really played together defensively.”

Arizona State’s next matchup comes next Saturday against another California school in CSU Bakersfield. Coach Clapper mentioned how the defensive efforts from today can be worked into their future matchups.

“The effort and team work that we saw in this game will make really good things happen for us down the road,” Clapper said. “We’ve been working with these younger shooters to get more confident and just getting them to understand to pull the trigger.”

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