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Four games in San Diego await water polo

March 31, 2011

Sun Devil Statistics & Record Book (pdf)

After two weeks at home, the No. 9 Arizona State University water polo team (8-10, 0-5 MPSF) will return to the road for four games this weekend in San Diego, including another game in the MPSF. The Sun Devils will take on league foe No. 11 San Diego State (16-10, 0-4 MPSF) to open play on Saturday at noon before meeting Brown (8-9) at 3 p.m. at the Aztec Aquaplex. On Sunday, ASU will play a pair of games at Canyonview Pool in La Jolla, Calif., as it will take on Fresno Pacific (6-17) at 11 a.m. before closing out the weekend with host and 20th-ranked UC San Diego (20-6) at 5 p.m.

On February 4, the Sun Devil water polo team celebrated the start of their 10th year as a varsity program. Back on February 4, 2002, the Sun Devils played host to Santa Clara in a doubleheader, dropping the first game, 8-6 in overtime, before winning the second contest, 9-2, for the program’s first win at the varsity level. Throughout the season, we will look back at the previous nine seasons of varsity action at ASU as we commemorate this anniversary.

Historically, April 3 has produced two of the biggest wins in program history with the first coming in 2004 and the second one year later. On April 3, 2004, the Sun Devils, then ranked No. 17 nationally, took on No. 10 UC Santa Barbara, scoring a 7-4 victory over the Gauchos and notching its first upset of a Top 10 team. One year later, however, the Sun Devils improved upon their ‘biggest upset’ win by again taking down the Gauchos, this time with No. 18 ASU scoring an 8-7 overtime win over No. 8 UCSB.

In the latest national Top 20 rankings, the Sun Devils slipped one position to No. 9 this week. Two of their opponents are in the Top 20 this week, including No. 10 San Diego State and No. 20 UC San Diego, who joined the rankings for the first time this season.

The coaches of the MPSF cast their votes for how they think the conference will shake out this year and Arizona State was voted seventh out of the eight teams, one point below San Jose State and one point ahead of San Diego State. Stanford, USC and Hawai’i enter as the Top 3 projected teams in the league.

Saturday’s game with the Aztecs will mark the second time the two teams have met this season. In the placement game at the UC Irvine Invitational, the SUn Devils scored a 10-9 decision over No. 7 San Diego State to take seventh place in the 16-team tournament.

While both teams have met once before this season, the result did not count toward the MPSF standings like this weekend’s game will. Both teams enter the weekend with zero wins in the conference and the winner on Saturday will move ahead of the other into seventh place in the standings.

Over the past several weeks, Lynlee Smith has been helping on the offensive end of the pool, but not always by putting the ball in the back of the net. While she is fourth on the team in goals scored with 21 this year, she leads the way in assists with 30, nearly double that of the next Sun Devil, who has 16 helpers, and ranks as the seventh-most in a single season at ASU. Overall, her assist total has helped her accumulate 51 points with the second-most recorded on the team coming in with 36. In fact, her assist total alone would rank her tied sixth on the team in points.

On the career ledger, Smith currently ranks among the Top 5 in goals, assists and points during her three years in Tempe, including standing second all-time in goals with 138, moving past Katie Hedley (2004-07), who had 134. Smith’s 72 career assists leaves a ways away from breaking the 100-assist mark with half of the season gone, but it does put her fifth all-time and has her 16 back of third place all-time. In career points, those 209 scored (137 goals-72 assists) ranks her third all-time and just the third Sun Devil to score 200 points in a career.

With one goal against Stanford last weekend, Shannon Haas has scored in 12-of-17 games this year, including the last four, in which she netted 12 totals goals. She currently leads the team with 30 goals and, in just two seasons, has already scored 77 goals, which ties her for ninth on the career scoring ledger. With seven more goals this season, she will tie for eighth. From this point out, if she doubles her output, she will become just the sixth Sun Devil to score 100 or more goals in a career.

Another player going for the 100-goal total is senior Nikki Unbehaun, who, like Haas, has tallied 77 in her career, tying her for ninth all-time.

A pair of Sun Devils that earned Honorable Mention All-America honors last season are back once again this year as seniors Sarah Harris and Lynlee Smith will look to lead the offensive charge. Smith was the team’s leading scorer in 2010 with 51 goals (seventh-most in a single season in ASU history) while Harris was an all-around standout, scoring 38 goals (third on the team) while leading the team in steals (30) and by winning 82-of-98 sprints.

Harris also was selected as an Honorable Mention All-MPSF selection and is one of two Sun Devils returning this season after earning that distinction last year. The other returnee is sophomore Shannon Haas, who was named to the Honorable Mention All-MPSF team as well as the MPSF All-Freshman team. Haas was a standout offensively as a freshman, netting 47 goals, which ranks second on the school’s freshman season scoring list and also ranks 10th on the all-time single-season scoring list in program history.

The Sun Devils will be off next week before traveling to Hawaii for a game with the Rainbow Wahine at 6 p.m. on April 16. That will be the final regular season game of the season before the Sun Devils head to San Jose, Calif. (April 29-May 1) to compete in the MPSF Championships, hosted by San Jose State.