Water polo to face Stanford
The No. 5 Arizona State University water polo team (9-6, 0-1 MPSF) will continue conference play on Saturday by hosting No. 1 Stanford (12-1, 2-0 MPSF). The Sun Devils will look for their first win in school history over the nation's top-ranked team when the Cardinal comes to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center at noon on Saturday. ASU lost its home and conference opener last week, falling 10-5 to No. 3 UCLA.
FACING THE BEST
The Sun Devils have already played 13 games against ranked opponents this season, including the last 12 in a row, and they are 7-6 overall in those contests. They have two victories this season over teams ranked in the top 10, beating No. 7 UC Davis 9-6 and No. 5 California 11-10 at the UC Irvine Invitational on February 21-22. ASU will play at least seven more games this season against Top 20 teams, with six coming as part of MPSF conference play, beginning with this weekend's match-up against No. 1 Stanford. They will also host No. 8 San Jose State while going on the road to meet No. 2 USC, No. 4 Hawai'i, No. 6 San Diego State and No. 7 California. In addition, the Sun Devils will host No. 9 UC Irvine on March 29 at the ASU Invitational, and they will take on the top-ranked team in the Division III poll when they play at Pomona-Pitzer on March 13.
SCORING IN BUNCHES
Arizona State is scoring goals at a record pace so far this season. The Sun Devils have scored 154 goals on the season, an average of 10.27 per game. At that pace, they would set a new school record for team goals per game. The current record is held by the 2007 team, which averaged 9.57 goals per game while going 14-14 on the season. The Devils already tied a single-game school record by scoring 20 goals in their season-opening win over Colorado State on January 24, and they have scored eight or more goals in 11 of their 15 games.
PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF
After earning First-Team All-American honors in 2008, Addison McGrath has started her senior season in grand fashion. She has 38 goals, 16 assists and 17 steals so far this season, and she has scored a goal in 13 of the team's 15 games this season, with 11 multiple-goal games. McGrath was selected as the Mikasa MPSF Co-Player of the Week for the first week of the season, as she scored 13 goals, had five assists and added five steals in the team's three games at the season-opening Michigan Invitational. It was the third time in her career she earned the conference's player of the week honor, also doing so in April 2006 and in the final week of the regular season last year. In addition, McGrath's five-goal performance against No. 14 CS Northridge on January 24 was her 50th career multiple-goal game.
Sophomore Nikki Unbehaun has played a big role in her second year as a Sun Devil. She currently ranks third on the team with 19 goals, already far surpassing her freshman season total of 10. Unbehaun has three four-goal games this year, coming in victories over Bucknell on January 25, No. 12 Hartwick on February 1 and No. 5 California on February 22. The four goals against the Golden Bears helped the Sun Devils to their first win of the season over a top 5 team and their first comeback victory when trailing after three quarters.
BURSTING ON THE SCENE
Sophomore Lynlee Smith has had a brilliant start to her collegiate career. The New Zealand native who played in the 2005 World Championships and the 2005 and 2007 Junior World Championships has made an immediate impact for the Sun Devils. She has scored goals in 12 of her first 15 career college games, including four-goal performances against Colorado State on January 24, against No. 12 Hartwick on February 1 and against No. 7 UC Davis on February 21, and she had a hat trick at No. 2 Stanford on February 8. Smith is currently second on the team with 28 goals, and she is tied for the team lead with 16 assists.
MAKING A SPLASH
Smith is not the only newcomer contributing for the Sun Devils in 2009. Freshman Mariam Salloum has started all 15 games and is third on the team with 28 points (16 goals and 12 assists), while sophomore Sam Schubert has also played in all 15 games, scoring eight goals and adding three assists. Freshman goalie Dana Harvey has collected 94 saves and stopped 45 percent of the shots she has faced while making 13 starts in the cage. Freshman Bella Morrison made her collegiate debut at the Stanford Invitational, and she has five goals and one assist in nine games, while fellow freshman Kelsey White has played in three games and scored one goal.
LET THE RECORD SHOW
Addison McGrath has rewritten the Arizona State record books in her time on campus. She set single-season school records with her 81 goals and 123 points last season, and in the process she became the school's career leader in both categories. She currently has 212 goals and 313 points, and she will look to continue extending her hold on both records throughout the season. McGrath is also within striking distance of ASU's all-time assists record. She has 101 in her career, putting her in second place and just 18 behind Ashley Bower, who had 119 assists from 2004-2007. In addition, she has 122 career steals, placing her fifth on the school's career list in that category.
EYE ON THE RECORD BOOKS
McGrath is not the only Sun Devil climbing the charts in the school's record books. Junior Kelly Phelps is currently fifth in Sun Devil history in goals scored (91) and tied for sixth in points (125). She needs just six points to move into the top five in that category. In addition, junior Bonnie Miles sits fifth on the school's all-time list with 52 assists, leaving her just one shy of fourth place.
HAT TRICKS A PLENTY
The Sun Devils already have 17 instances of a player scoring three or more goals in a game so far this season. Senior Addison McGrath has seven of them, as she has one three-goal game, five four-goal performances and a season-high five goals in the team's victory over No. 14 CS Northridge on January 24. Sophomore Lynlee Smith has three four-goal games and one hat trick, and sophomore Nikki Unbehaun also has three four-goal games. Freshman Mariam Salloum has two hat tricks on the season, while junior Kelly Phelps has one.
IN THE CAGE
Sophomore Kaitlyn Morris and freshman Dana Harvey are combining to help the Sun Devils replace All-American goalie Caylinn Wallace this season. Wallace was a four-year starter for ASU, collecting a program-record 1,087 career saves and a single-season record 346 saves last year. Harvey has collected 94 saves and stopped 45 percent of the shots she has faced while playing in 14 games (13 starts), while Morris, who played in eight games last season as Wallace's backup, has seen action in five games (two starts) in 2009 and recorded 13 saves.
THE 200/300 CLUB
While the Sun Devils competed at the Stanford Invitational on February 7-8, senior Addison McGrath reached two numbers never before seen in Arizona State water polo history. In the team's 10-9 overtime win over No. 18 Indiana, McGrath scored four goals to give her 200 in her career. Then, the next day, against No. 10 San Jose State, she again scored four goals, and the second gave her 300 career points. The school's all-time leader in both categories, McGrath now has 212 goals and 313 points.
A RECORD START
The Sun Devils began the season with six straight wins, setting a new school record for a season-opening win streak. They defeated Colorado State, No. 14 CS Northridge and Bucknell at the Michigan Invitational on January 24-25, beat No. 15 CS Bakersfield and No. 13 CS Northridge at the Cal Baptist Mini-Tournament on January 31 and then knocked off No. 12 Hartwick at the UC Irvine Mini-Tournament on February 1. The previous mark for longest season-opening win streak came in 2006, when ASU won four in a row to open the year.
IN THE SERIES... STANFORD
Arizona State is 0-8 in its all-time series against Stanford. The Cardinal are one of three teams that ASU has never beaten in three or more meetings, joining UCLA (0-10) and Loyola Marymount (0-5). The Sun Devils have already faced Stanford once this season, on February 8 at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., when the two teams played a thrilling shootout that saw the Cardinal emerge victorious 15-14. ASU has lost all five MPSF conference games in the series history.
A LOOK AT THE CARDINAL
Stanford comes to Tempe as the top-ranked team in the nation. The Cardinal are 12-1, 2-0 in the MPSF, after defeating No. 8 San Jose State 16-8 last weekend. They began the season ranked No. 2, but they moved to the top spot after defeating then No. 1 USC Trojans 12-11 in overtime in the championship game of the UC Irvine Invitational on February 22. Freshman Melissa Seidemann leads the team with 31 goals, and junior Kelly Eaton has 24 goals. Sophomore goalies Amber Oland and Kim Hall have split time in the cage. Oland has 47 saves and Hall has 35.
PRESEASON MPSF SELECTIONS
Arizona State received 13 points and was ranked seventh in the 2009 MPSF preseason women's water polo coaches' poll. USC received 48 points and six of the eight first-place votes to take the top spot, followed by Stanford and four-time defending national champion UCLA, who each got one first-place vote. Hawai'i, California and San Diego State followed, and San Jose State received the eighth position. In 2008, the Sun Devils finished tied for fifth in the MPSF regular season, their highest finish since joining the conference in 2004.
The 2009 Sun Devils have 22 players on the roster, including 10 that return from last year's squad. The returning players feature just one senior, Addison McGrath, four juniors in Jennifer Campo, Bonnie Miles, Kelly Phelps and Kari Walsh, and five sophomores in Lauren Hayes, Kaitlyn Morris, Candice Phillippe, Christy Stibbe and Nikki Unbehaun. Junior goalie Taylor Greenberg also returns to the Sun Devils this season, after having been out of water polo for the last two years. She redshirted during the 2006 season.
There are 11 newcomers on the team this season, including six international players. Dana Harvey, Bella Morrison, Sam Schubert and Lynlee Smith all come to Tempe from New Zealand, Mariam Salloum hails from Germany and Kelsey White arrives from South Africa. In addition, freshmen Aimee Bedell, Terra Debold, Kaileigh Esson, Stephanie Funston and Ashley Mercerau round out the Arizona State roster.
NEW TO THE STAFF
Mark Lawrence joins the Sun Devil coaching staff this season as the graduate assistant manager. A three-year player in the Australian National League, Lawrence comes to Tempe after spending a year as the men's assistant head coach at Ohlone Junior College in Fremont, Calif., where he played from 1999-2001.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Sun Devils will hit the road again next week for three games, including two MPSF contests. They will play at No. 4 Hawai'i on Wednesday, March 11, before heading to California for games with Division III power Pomona-Pitzer on Friday and No. 2 USC on Saturday.