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Smith's hot hand, timely saves help water polo to sweep

March 29, 2009

The No. 8 Arizona State University water polo team opened play in the 2009 ASU Invitational at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe on Saturday with a split of its two games, dropping a high-scoring affair to No. 6 San Jose State in the opener, 19-14, before rebounding to edge No. 20 Santa Clara, 11-10, in overtime. With the results, the Sun Devils improved to 11-10 on the season.

In the first game, the Spartans raced out to a 4-1 lead before Kari Walsh netted a pair of goals and Bonnie Miles added one of her own to trail only 5-4 through the first period. SJSU continued to find the back of the cage in the second by adding another five scores with only Miles and Lynlee Smith adding goals to make it 9-6 at the intermission. The third quarter was no better for the Sun Devils as the visitors notched six more goals to three from ASU before the Sun Devils closed out the game with a 5-3 run, including the final two goals of the game, for the final 19-14 score.

Overall, Smith led the charge with four goals while Miles, Walsh, Nikki Unbehaun and Sam Schubert each netted a pair of scores. Phelps and Addison McGrath also scored one goal each in the contest.

ASU’s second game of the day pitted it against the No. 20 Broncos in a close game throughout. Smith, Unbehaun and Mariam Salloum each scored to open the game and stake ASU to a 3-0 lead, but SCU scored three of their own to tie the game after one period. In the second, Salloum added a pair and Smith scored her second while limiting the visitors to one goal for the 6-4 halftime lead. SCU climbed back into the game in the third as it scored twice while only Smith scored for ASU before the fourth quarter saw the Broncos take a 9-8 lead with four minutes remaining. With less than three minutes remaining, Campo scored on the advantage and eventually sent the game into overtime. After both teams scored once in the first extra stanza, Unbehaun scored with 45 seconds remaining in the second to give ASU the 11-10 victory.

Lynlee Smith continued her torrid scoring pace on Sunday for the No. 8 Arizona State University water polo team at the ASU Invitational as she netted 13 goals in two games on the day to pace an offense that scored 36 times as the Sun Devils picked up a pair of wins with a 25-6 defeat of Cal Lutheran and close 11-10 victory over No. 9 UC Irvine. With the wins, the Sun Devils improved to 12-10 on the year with two regular season contests remaining on the slate.

In the opener, the Sun Devils exploded for a school-record 25 goals as all but one field player scored at least one goal in the game. ASU raced out to a 7-2 lead through the first period of play and did not look back as it built its lead to 12-4 at the half and 20-6 heading into the final stanza. Smith once again paced the offensive attack, this time equalling the school record for goals in a single game with seven. Her total, which surpassed her previous season high of five goals set one night earlier, ties Addison McGrath's mark that was set last year against No. 4 Hawaii.

Kelly Phelps found her scoring touch with four goals in the game while Nikki Unbehaun and Sam Schubert each contributed hat-tricks to the goal total and Bella Morrison added a pair. One goal each was chipped in by Christy Stibbe, Candice Phillippe, Kari Walsh, Bonnie Miles, Kelsey White and Mariam Salloum. Defensively, Dana Harvey got the start in the cage and turned away four shots in the first half of play before Kaitlyn Morris came in to start the third and swatted away four as well. 

The Sun Devils, who scored 20 goals against Colorado State to open the year to tie the record for goals in a game, did not cool off in the finale as they battled to an 11-10 victory on Senior Day. Despite not having Addison McGrath in the line-up in her final home game, her teammates, including fellow senior Jennifer Campo, made sure they went out on top as the took a 5-4 lead into the second period and maintained a one-goal lead at the half. In the third, UCI tied the score a 7-7 and then took their first, and only, lead of the game at 8-7 before ASU scored two in a row to close the third on top, 9-8.

In the fourth, UCI tied it up at the 6:45 mark before Smith's fifth goal of the game put ASU ahead, 10-9. The Anteaters tied it up at 10-10 with 3:21 remaining with both teams creating scoring chances as the clock ticked time away. Then, with 34 seconds remaining in regulation, UCI was whistled for an exclusion, putting the hosts on the advantage. After swinging the ball around, Salloum snuck a pass from the wing into the center where Smith slammed it home for the 11-10 lead with only 17 seconds remaining. UCI took one last shot and it was nearly the right one from 5-meters out, but Morris, who tallied nine saves in the game, came up huge with a save as the clock expired to give ASU the win.

Along with Smith's six goals, Phelps scored three and both Salloum and out-going senior Campo each scored once. Overall on the day, Smith led the way with 13 goals scored while Phelps added seven and both Unbehaun and Schubert contributed three each. Morris finished the day with 13 saves while Harvey tallied four.

The Sun Devils will return to the road next weekend as they pay a visit to the Golden Bears of California on April 4 for a 6 p.m. MPSF contest.