ASU water polo faces CSUN in MPSF tourney opener

<p align="justify">The No. 4 Arizona State University water polo team heads to the Aztec Aquaplex in San Diego, Calif., this week as the Sun Devils (20-10, 7-5 MPSF) are set to face No. 15 CS Northridge (12-17, 2-10 MPSF) in the opening round of the 2008 MPSF Championships, hosted by San Diego State. The Sun Devils tied for fifth in the league standings with No. 7 Hawai'i and will enter the tournament as the sixth-seed. ASU will face the 11th-seeded Matadors at 12:40 p.m. on Thursday with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals on Friday against third-seeded USC at 2:30 p.m.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">THE SCHEDULE<br />The outcome of the game with the Matadors on Thursday will dictate the next game for the Sun Devils. A victory over CSUN will place Arizona State against No. 3 USC on Friday while a loss to the Matadors would force ASU to wait until Saturday, where it would take on the loser of seventh-seeded California vs. 10th-seeded Long Beach State.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">THE STAKES<br />The winner of the MPSF Championships will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Championships. The national event takes eight teams, including five conference champions, meaning three at-large bids are up for grabs as well.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">HAPPY TO UPSET... AGAIN<br />With their 10-7 defeat of No. 4 San Diego State last weekend in Tempe, the then-No. 6 Sun Devils recorded their third upset of a Top 4 team this year. The other upsets came in an 8-5 defeat of then-No. 2 USC (Feb. 10) at the Stanford Invitational and in an 8-7 victory over then-No. 4 California (March 15) at home.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">FEELING HONORED<br />With three goals scored, including a pair of goals in the third quarter that kept the game at a two-goal advantage for the Sun Devils, junior <a href=""… McGrath</a> was selected as the MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week. The award is the first of the year for McGrath, the second of her career and third of the season for ASU (<a href=""… Wallace</a> was honored twice in 2008).</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">IF YOU BEAT THEM ... JOIN THEM<br />On the strength of its third upset win over at Top 4 team this year and victories in nine of its last 10 games (only loss was at No. 1 UCLA), the Sun Devils climbed into a tie with San Diego State for the No. 4 position in the latest national rankings, marking the highest the program has been ranked in its nearly seven varsity seasons. Last week, the Sun Devils were No. 6, which equalled the previous high the program had attained (also was ranked sixth on May 3, May 10 and May 17 of 2006 and then January 16 and January 23 of 2007).</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">TOPPING THE TOP 5<br />So far this season, the Sun Devils have recorded upset wins over a trio of Top 5 ranked foes, including the victories over No. 2 USC, No. 4 California and No. 4 San Diego State (the wins over USC and Cal were the first for Arizona State over those foes in the history of the program). Heading into the 2008 season, the Sun Devils had only defeated at Top 5 team three total times. Those wins included victories over No. 5 San Diego State in 2007 (8-7 at home), No. 5 Hawai'i in 2006 (8-7 at home) and No. 4 Hawai'i again in 2006 (8-5 at the Stanford Invitational).</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">SOME OF THE BEST<br />Speaking of the upper tier of the rankings, Arizona State faced a total of 10 teams at the team they were ranked in the Top 5 and recorded a 3-7 record. In fact, only seven of the team's 30 games so far this year have been against teams not ranked in the Top 20 nationally while the Sun Devils also have played 13 games against Top 10 teams (4-9 record).</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">HIGHEST FINISH<br />With its 7-5 record in MPSF play, Arizona State finished tied with Hawai'i for fifth-place in the league standings, surpassing the sixth-place finish achieved last year.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">CLOSING STRONG<br />Over the last 10 games played this season, the Sun Devils posted a 9-1 record with its only loss coming at No. 1 UCLA. The 9-1 mark is the best record by an ASU team to close a regular season, bettering the 8-2 record recorded last year.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">TOURNEY HISTORY<br />In four previous tournaments, the Sun Devils have posted a 6-8 record and placed 10th overall in three of those events with only a sixth-place showing in 2006 the difference in the placements. This year's team has earned both the highest regular season finish (tied for fifth) and the highest tournament seeding (sixth) in the history of the program, surpassing the tie for seventh and the seventh-seed recorded in 2006. Last year, the Sun Devils played host to the championships, posting a 1-2 record at the eighth-seed to place 10th overall.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">FIRST TIME<br />The Sun Devils and Matadors will meet for the first time in MPSF Championship action, marking the eighth different team the Sun Devils will have faced in its five trips to the event. A victory over CS Northridge would set up a meeting with USC for the first time in MPSF tourney action for ASU while a loss to CSUN would see the Sun Devils face the loser of California vs. Long Beach State. ASU is 0-3 all-time in the tournament against Cal while holding a 1-1 record against LBSU.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">IN OPENERS<br />Arizona State is 1-3 in its first game of the MPSF Championships with its lone victory coming in a 9-6 defeat of Long Beach State in 2006. The Sun Devils fell to California, 14-7, in 2004, fell to LBSU, 8-4, in 2005 and then dropped a 13-12 decision to UC Irvine last year.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">RECEIVED ONE<br />ASU needed a victory over No. 4 San Diego State last weekend to make history and did just that. ASU finished over .500 in the league for the first time (7-5 record) while also moving to 20-10 overall on the year, tying for the record of overall wins set in 2003 (20-18).</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">NEED ONE MORE<br />With one more victory this week, the Sun Devils will secure the 50th of head coach <a href="">To… Clapper's</a> career with the program. Clapper currently holds a record of 49-37 in his third year with the Sun Devils and stands 154-110 overall in his eight-year coaching tenure.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">IN THE SERIES ... CS NORTHRIDGE<br />The Sun Devils hold a 6-4 advantage in the series and have won four in a row, including a pair of games this season. The last time the two teams met was April 12 in Tempe with the Sun Devils recording a 12-5 victory. Earlier in the year (February 23) at the UC Irvine Invitational, the Sun Devils defeated the Matadors, 12-4, to bring ASU's record to 2-1 in games played at a neutral location.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">IN THE SERIES ... USC-CALIFORNIA-LONG BEACH STATE<br />With a win over CS Northridge, the Sun Devils would face USC, who holds a 1-5 record in the all-time series over Arizona State. The Trojans won the last meeting, 11-5, in Tempe just seven days after ASU scored a huge upset with its 8-5 victory. Should the Sun Devils fall to CSUN, they will face either Cal or Long Beach State. The Sun Devils are 1-8 all-time against Cal and won the last meeting, 8-7, at home on March 15 to record an upset of a Top 4 team. The Sun Devils are 4-7 in the series with the 49ers and have won four in a row, including wins of 9-6 (at LBSU) and 12-8 (at UCI Invite) this season.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">AT SAN DIEGO<br />The Sun Devils are 4-8 all-time in games played at a San Diego school (San Diego State and UC San Diego), including an 0-2 record at the Aztec Aquaplex. The last time ASU played at SDSU, the host Aztecs won a 10-7 game in 2007.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">IN THE MPSF<br /><a href=""… McGrath</a> finished the regular season as the leading scorer in the MPSF, pacing the conference in both goals scored (73) and goals per game average (2.52). On the defensive end, goalie <a href=""… Wallace</a> also sits atop a pair of statistical categories as she leads the MPSF in saves (310) and saves per game average (10.33). As a team, the Sun Devils rank sixth on defense with a 7.07 goals allowed average while the offense is seventh with a 9.33 goals per game scoring average.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">NATIONAL STATISTICS<br />In the latest national statistics, <a href=""… McGrath</a> ranks tied for 13th in goals scored with 73 while <a href=""… Wallace</a> stands fifth overall with 310 saves. As a team, the defense ranks 10th nationally with its 7.07 goals allowed per game average while its 9.33 goals scored per game average is the 26th-best in the NCAA.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">TEAM RECORDS<br />Through 30 games this year, the Sun Devils have scored 280 goals, the most in a single season, surpassing the 268 tallied last year in 28 games. Based on goals per game average, this year's Sun Devils trail the 2007 team, 9.33 to 9.57.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">SCORING QUEEN<br /><a href=""… McGrath</a> scored four goals at No. 8 San Jose State on March 1, all of which came in the second quarter. It was her second goal in that game, however, that is historic as it gave her 135 for her career and the school's scoring record, surpassing the 134 scored by <a href="">Ka… Hedley</a><a href="">R… Webster</a>, who held the single-season goal record of 63 that she scored in 2006. McGrath currently has score 73 goals on the season and increased her career record total to 166. (2004-07). Then, at the ASU Invitational, McGrath took over another scoring record as she netted two goals against No. 19 UC San Diego (March 30) for season scores No. 63 and No. 64. Her second goal broke a tie with her and</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">IN BUNCHES<br />To take over the scoring record, McGrath has scored at least one goal in 75 of her 87 career games played and tallied two or more 49 times. She has recorded games with three or more on 33 occasions, including 16 games with three, 16 games with four and one game with seven, a school-record. Comparatively, former scoring champion <a href="">Ka… Hedley</a> scored multiple goals in 42 games with only 14 games of three or more goals.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">BRICK WALLACE<br /><a href=""… Wallace</a> recorded eight saves in the upset over No. 4 San Diego State last weekend, just two stops shy of giving the senior goalie her 16th double-digit save total of the season. The single-season record-holder with 310 stops this year, Wallace ranks fifth nationally in total saves and currently leads the MPSF in both saves and saves per game average, stopping 10.33 per outing.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">WALLACE 1000<br />Wallace recorded 43 saves in four games at the ASU Invitational (March 29-30), including 17 against CS San Bernardino, but it was the last of eight saves she made against Cal Baptist that was special as that stop, which came in the fourth quarter, was the 1,000th of her career.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">MAY I HELP YOU?<br />So far this season, <a href="">Bo… Miles</a> has recorded 29 saves, the fifth-most in a single season and brought her career total to 36, the eighth-best in school history. With one more assist, Miles would become the fifth player to record 30 or more assists in a single season while four more would make her only the sixth Sun Devil to record 40 in a career.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">MOVING UP<br />Already a member of the career Top 10 lists in goals (fourth at 91), assists (10th at 34) and points (fifth at 125), <a href="">Katy Lawlor</a> will look to place her name both on and higher the single season lists one more time. In the single-season categories, Lawlor needs one more goal to tie for the 10th-most in a year at 39 while also needing only six points to tie for 10th on the single season list with 60. On the career ledger, Lawlor needs nine goals to become on the fourth Sun Devil to score 100 or more in a career while needing six more assists to become only the sixth Sun Devil with 40 or more helpers in a career.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">CLOSING IN - SEASON<br />Two other players are closing in on a place on the single-season lists as rookie <a href="">La… Hayes</a> needs three more assists to move into the Top 10 with 25 on the year while <a href=""… McGrath</a> is six steals away from tying for 10th with 49 saves in a season. Hayes also needs six points to become just the ninth freshman to record 40 or more points in her rookie season.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">CLOSING IN - CAREER<br />The career lists have a trio of players looking to join the elite ranks as well. <a href="">… Aparicio</a> has 32 career assists and needs just two more helpers to move into the Top 10 all-time. In the career points list, <a href="">Am… Stepp</a> is three points shy of cracking into the Top 10 as well as three points shy of making her the 10th Sun Devil to record 90 or more points in a career while classmate <a href="">Ke… Phelps</a> is six points away from becoming the eighth player in ASU history to record 100 or more points in a career.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">CENTURY MARK<br />The victory at UC Santa Barbara on April 5 not only extended the Sun Devils' winning ways at the time, it also gave the program a historic win as it recorded its 100th victory. Arizona State, who has been playing at the varsity level since the 2002 season, is now 102-112 all-time.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">HISTORICAL<br />Arizona State's win over USC was not only historic for the Sun Devils as their highest ranked opponent they have defeated, but it also marked the first time since the NCAA began sponsoring a national tournament (2001) that a team outside of the Top 5 has knocked off a team in the Top 3 while also becoming just the fourth program to defeat USC in that span. The only other time a team other than UCLA or Stanford has defeated USC since 2001 was when No. 4 Hawai'i scored a 10-9 defeat of the top-ranked Trojans at the MPSF Championships in Irvine (April 29, 2006). Loyola Marymount, ranked fifth and seeded third at the NCAA Championships, was the other team outside of the Top 3 to defeat a Top 3 team when it upset No. 2 Stanford in the national semifinals at the 2004 tournament in Palo Alto, Calif.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">FAST START<br />Opening the year 8-3, the Sun Devils have tied the program record for best start as both the 2006 and 2008 squads opened the year 8-3. Both teams also posted six-game winning streaks during that span and placed seventh at the Stanford Invitational.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">PRESEASON MPSF SELECTIONS<br />The MPSF conducted a preseason poll of the 13 head coaches in the league prior to the start of the season with the Sun Devils receiving 56 points and the eighth-position in the poll, just three points behind seventh-ranked San Jose State. Defending champion UCLA was selected first and was followed in the Top 5 by USC, California and Stanford (tied for third) and Hawaii. The Sun Devils finished 10th in the MPSF Championships last year, which were held in Tempe.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">AWAY FROM THE POOL<br />While the team took the weekend off a few weeks ago, <a href=""… McGrath</a> was still competing, picking up a javelin for the ASU Track &amp; Field team. McGrath recorded a toss of 44.34m (145-06) to place fifth in her first competition in the event and move into the No. 4 spot on ASU's all-time Top 10 list. Her mark also qualified her for the NCAA West Region Championships, the qualifier for the NCAA Track &amp; Field Championships.</p><separator></separator><p align="justify">NEXT TIME OUT<br />If the Sun Devils do not win the MPSF Championships and are not one of the three at-large selections into the NCAA Water Polo Championships, the MPSF Championships will be the final games of the 2008 season.</p>