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No. 11 water polo set for trio of games at Lancer Invite

January 30, 2008

TEMPE, Ariz. - Coming off a 3-1 record in its opening weekend, the No. 11 Arizona State University water polo team (3-1, 0-0 MPSF) will return to the road this weekend for a trio of games at the Lancer Invitational in Riverside, Calif., hosted by Cal Baptist. The Sun Devils, who have won three in a row, will face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (0-0) at 8:30 a.m. Saturday before taking on the host Lancers (2-0) at 12:30 p.m. The day closes with ASU facing Concordia (0-0) at 2 p.m. All three games will be played at the Lancer Aquatics Center at CBU.

The Lancer Invitational will include Arizona State, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Concordia and host Cal Baptist this weekend with the Sun Devils being the only team playing three times.

There was no change in the national ranking for the Sun Devils between the release of the preseason poll (January 23) and the first regular season rankings (January 30) as Arizona State remained No. 11 this week.

In the latest national Top 20 rankings, 13 of the other 19 teams (Arizona State is No. 11) will be opponents of the Sun Devils this season, including the entire Top 7 and eight of the Top 10 teams. UCLA (No. 1), USC (No. 2) and Stanford (No. 3) hold the top positions this week.

The Sun Devils opened their 2008 season with a 3-1 record at the Michigan Invitational, falling to No. 1 UCLA (14-5) before rebounding for a trio of victories over No. 18 Michigan (7-5), Indiana (12-3) and No. 14 UC San Diego (6-4). Arizona State's 3-1 record is the second-best start to a year, trailing only a 4-0 record to open the 2006 season. If the Sun Devils sweep through the Lancer Invitational this weekend (three games), their 6-1 record would mark the best 7-game start in program history, surpassing the 5-2 record by the 2006 squad.

Following three games against unranked opponents this weekend, the Sun Devils will compete in the Stanford Invitational where their first three games will come against Top 5 teams, including No. 3 Stanford in the opener, followed by No. 5 California and No. 2 USC before facing one more ranked team in the placement game. The following week, the Sun Devils will open their home slate with MPSF games against No. 2 USC and No. 4 Hawaii.

In her first four games of the season, junior All-American Addison McGrath scored 10 goals, including four against Indiana and another three against No. 18 Michigan. In the Indiana game, McGrath's third goal went down as the 100th in her career, making her just the third Sun Devil in program history to hit the century mark in goal scoring, joining record-holder Katie Hedley (134) and runner-up Ashley Bower (117).

With her performances against both No. 18 Michigan and Indiana, Addison McGrath continued to build upon her solid career numbers that include her scoring at least one goal in 51-of-60 games played while marking the 16th time she has scored three or more in a contest.

Of the nine freshmen on the 2008 roster, five saw their first minutes of playing time at the Michigan Invitational. Nikki Unbehaun (four games) and Candice Phillipe (three) started for the Sun Devils while Christy Stibbe, Lauren Hayes and goalie Kaitlyn Morris each saw action during the weekend.

Of the five rookies that played over the weekend, four scored their first collegiate points, including Nikki Unbehaun, who scored a goal against Indiana in her hometown (Ann Arbor, Mich.) with family and friends on hand to see. Candice Phillipe led the freshmen in scoring as she netted three goals and added one assist on the weekend while Lauren Hayes finished with one goal and two assists. Kaitlyn Morris, who played in two games, stopped two shots on goal and recorded one point on an assist during the Indiana game.

Addison McGrath was not the only Sun Devil to score in all four games this weekend as senior Katy Lawlor tallied at least one goal in all four games to end the weekend with six total. Lawlor netted one goal each against No. 1 UCLA, No. 18 Michigan and No. 14 UC San Diego while adding a hat trick against Indiana.

Senior goalie Caylinn Wallace turned in a stellar weekend in the cage for the Sun Devils as she posted 16 saves in a game twice and finished with 48 on the weekend. Wallace opened with nine saves against No. 1 UCLA before halting 16 shots against both No. 18 Michigan (W, 7-5) and Indiana (W, 12-3). In the finale, Wallace stopped seven shots to help ASU to a 6-4 defeat of No. 14 UC San Diego. For her career, Wallace had recorded 789 saves and stopped 56-percent of the shots she has faced while averaging 9.39 saves per game.

A trio of Sun Devils climbed higher on the career record ledgers following the Michigan Invitational, including Addison McGrath in three categories. McGrath now has 103 career goals (third), 47 assists (fourth) and 150 total points (fourth). To move up one more position (tying the player above her), she will need 14 more goals, six more assists and nine more points. Senior Katy Lawlor, who scored six goals on the weekend, now ranks seventh all-time with 59 and needs four more to tie for sixth. Caylinn Wallace recorded six steals near the cage to climb to fourth on the all-time steals chart, needing 14 more to tie for third.

The game with the Athenas will be the first in the series between the two teams.

The Sun Devils hold a slim 5-4 record in their series with the Lancers and have won the last five games in a row, including a 10-5 decision at CBU to open the 2006 season. Arizona State is 1-1 all-time in games played at CBU and 1-1 in games played in Tempe with a 3-2 margin in neutral site contests.

The game with the Eagles will be the first in the series between the two teams.

The MPSF conducted a preseason poll of the 13 head coaches in the league last week 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.

The 2008 Sun Devil roster features 18 players, including nine that return from the 2007 squad. The returning players feature three seniors in Traci Aparicio, Katy Lawlor and Caylinn Wallace, one junior in Addison McGrath and five sophomores in Jennifer Campo, Bonnie Miles, Kelly Phelps, Amanda Stepp and Kari Walsh.

The second half of the squad is comprised of nine freshmen; Lauren Hayes, Elizabeth McCoy, Kaitlin McCoy, Kaitlyn Morris, Candice Phillipe, Angela Salgado, Christy Stibbe, Nikki Unbehaun and Kristen Wagner.

The players are not the only new additions to the program this year as a pair of coaches join the Sun Devils in time for the 2008 season. Originally brought in as the program's graduate assistant coach, Ryan Castle was asked to take over the assistant coaching duties this season following the departure of Robbie Bova, who left to pursue other career options. Also joining the staff is Tyler Oakes, who will serve as a volunteer coach.

The Sun Devils will travel to the Bay Area next weekend and compete in the highly competitive Stanford Invitational on February 9-10. Arizona State will open Pool A play against No. 3 Stanford before taking on No. 5 California on February 9. The next day, the Sun Devils will close out pool play against No. 2 USC before playing a to-be-determined opponent in the tournament placement rounds.