(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
This weekend the ASU women’s water polo team will travel to San Diego, California to participate in the Triton Invitational at UC San Diego. After a strong performance in the games against Indiana, the sixth ranked Sun Devils will look to build on their momentum.
While the bulk of the water polo season is a month away, the early tournaments allow teams a chance to experiment with different strategies before facing tougher competition. For ASU, their focus has been geared towards conditioning.
“It is really important, particularly at this time of year where we are still trying to build our conditioning days,” Coach Todd Clapper said. “The other aspect that is important is that our counter-attacking offense is organized so that is makes it harder for teams to press us.”
Early on in the season, ASU has been experimenting with a counter attack setup. The goal with counter attacks is to develop a defense that can pressure the other team and force them into a tight situation. If the defensive can grab an easy turnover, then it leads to a quick counter attack that will be hard for the other team to defend.
“Our counter attack has really been a big thing for us this year,” Katie Sverchek said. “We are working on that transition and just getting down the pool quickly and setting up, because a lot of the top four teams, they press really hard, so just being able to break that press will be a big key for us.”
Sverchek’s season has been going great. In one weekend she scored four goals against Indiana, which is already halfway to her season high eight goals of last season.
“Katie has been amazing,” Clapper said. “Katie last year really stepped in and filled a defensive role for us when we needed it, and her offense has been really coming along thing year. She has been doing a great job and the attitude she has is great.”
With Sverchek’s leadership in the pool, strategy is going to be key for the Sun Devils this season. The MPSF conference is arguably the toughest conference in all of collegiate water polo. With top teams like California, Stanford, USC and UCLA, a good game plan is necessary. The first MPSF game is scheduled on March 5 against USC and the early tournaments in the season will be very important to fine-tune that strategy.
“I think we’ve got a quick group,” Clapper said. “I think that is an advantage for us, and their attitude has been great. They are an attacking kind of team on the counter. To have that transition offense where we are creating opportunities, you have to have a certain mentality. And we have a lot of those players that can take charge and play a faster tempo.”
Coach Clapper will start to perfect his team’s game-plan at ASU’s upcoming tournaments. ASU will participate in two tournaments- the one this weekend, and another one at UC Irvine in a couple of weeks.