(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
The 9th ranked Arizona State water polo team hosted three schools this weekend in the first invitational at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center this season. ASU won all three of their matchups against CSU Bakersfield, Redlands and Wagner.
On the first day of the tournament, ASU faced Bakersfield in their first matchup and showcased a strong defense. The six steals from senior Ao Gao held the road runners to only four goals. Mix that with the multiples goals from Katie Sverchek, Maud Koopman and Taylor Bertrand and ASU won 13-4 making it the first MPSF conference win for Arizona State this season.
“I think yesterday was really good, particularly with the way we came out against Bakersfield,” Coach Todd Clapper said. “That has always been kind of the focus is those conference games. We came out really strong there. We have been doing a lot of shooting and working on the offense.”
Later that day ASU had a matchup with unranked opponent Redlands. The Bulldogs were absolutely no match for ASU. The Sun Devils put of six points before the bulldogs could even get on the scoreboard. Junior Stephanie Contreras led the game with five goals as ASU scorched Redlands 24-1
The next day ASU played 15th ranked Wagner. The Seahawks featured a good number of strong outside shooters as they kept the score margin close all game.
“They had four players that we thought were pretty creative shooters,” Clapper said. “We had to watch their three outside shooters and their center player. We felt that if we got her blocked on the near side of the goalie, we thought we’d be in good shape.”
With five minutes remaining in the game, Koopman broke a 6-6 tie with a near post goal, which set up a goal from Daisy Carter on the next play. The Sun Devils won 8-6 and advanced to a perfect 3-0 record on the weekend.
“Today we came out strong,” Clapper said. “Wagner is a very good team and they have a lot of offensive threats. We were a little complacent of defense and on offense I think we were a little panicked. We would see an opening and be afraid that we wouldn’t get a better shot and we rushed things a little bit.
Next weekend, ASU will host its second invitational in Tempe that will feature games against ranked opponents Pacific and Michigan.
“It’s just good learning experience,” Clapper said. “It is easy to do the things we have been doing in practice when there is no stress on you and now it’s being able to execute under high stress.”
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