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Water polo hosts UCLA and Cal Baptist to open home slate

March 03, 2011

Sun Devil Game Notes and Statistics (pdf)

The first of three home weekends awaits the No. 7 Arizona State University water polo team as the Sun Devils (4-6, 0-1 MPSF) are set to play host to No.3 UCLA (16-3, 0-1 MPSF) and Cal Baptist (10-5) this Saturday at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe. The Sun Devils and Bruins will meet in an MPSF contest at noon before UCLA and CBU play one another at 1:30 p.m. The day concludes with the Sun Devils and Lancers playing at 6 p.m. Admission is free for all three games this week.

• WEAR GOLD! Saturday’s game with UCLA is this year’ Gold Game
• 2011 will be the 10th year ASU has competed as a varsity program
• Looking Back: Second Top 5 ranking in school history was attained
• ASU is #7 in this week’s Collegiate Water Polo Association Top 20 (March 2)
• ASU is 4-5 all-time in its first home game of the season
• The Sun Devils are 2-5 all-time in their first home conference game of the year
• Review: ASU won home opener in 2010, lost first home MPSF game
• Recap: Sun Devils placed 7th at UC Irvine Invitational
• Happy to Upset: #9 ASU knocked off #7 San Diego State in medal round
• Haas finding her scoring touch (8 goals last weekend)
• Salloum, Haas rank in Top 12 of MPSF scoring so far this year
• In the Series: ASU seeking first win over UCLA, stands 8-4 vs. Cal Baptist
• Several moving up in all-time career record lists
• Sign Here: Sun Devils signed 6 to NLIs in early signing period
• Four seniors are entering their final season with the Sun Devils
• Team adds six newcomers, including four athletes, two staff members

Saturday’s game with No. 3 UCLA is Arizona State’s Gold Game for the 2011 season. All fans attending the game are encouraged to wear gold for ASU.

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.

Two years ago, on March 4, 2009, the Collegiate Water Polo Association released its National Top 20 for the week with the Sun Devils climbing to No. 5, the second-highest ranking in program history. That rise in the ranking came off the Sun Devils’ sixth-place showing at the UC Irvine Invitational one weekend earlier. The ranking received marked just the second time ASU has been a member of the Top 5 with only its No. 4 ranking from April 23, 2008, bettering this ranking.

For the second year in a row, the Sun Devils have risen to No. 7 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Top 20 rankings following a strong showing at the UC Irvine Invitational, climbing two spots from No. 9 after wins over No. 11 San Jose State and No. 7 San Diego State. Arizona State’s opponents this weekend are both on this week’s list with UCLA coming to Tempe ranked No. 3 and Cal Baptist outside of the Top 20 as it is receiving votes.

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.

In their previous nine seasons of competition, the Sun Devils have gone 4-5 in their first home game of the year, winning 14-13 over Cal Baptist last season to snap a three-game losing streak. Prior to the win over the Lancers last season, the Sun Devils had fallen in their home opener to No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 USC and No. 3 UCLA.

Saturday’s game with No. 3 UCLA also will be the Sun Devils’ first home MPSF game of the season. Arizona State also is 2-5 in its first home MPSF contest, but has lost its last four (all of which came to Top 5 teams). The last time ASU won its home conference opener game on February 21, 2006, with an 8-7 upset of No. 5 Hawaii.

Including Saturday’s opener with No. 3 UCLA, the Sun Devils will have faced a national Top 13 team to open its home schedule seven times (in 10 years) and a Top 5 opponent for the fifth year in a row. Dating back to the 2004 season (and including this weekend), ASU will have opened its home schedule by facing No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 USC, No. 3 UCLA (twice), No. 5 Hawaii, No. 10 Hawaii and No. 13 UC Irvine. The other two opponents were Santa Clara in ASU’s first game ever as a varsity program in 2002 and UC Santa Cruz one year later.

Arizona State’s first home action last season saw the team host the ASU Invitational and place four games in three days at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. The No. 7 Sun Devils opened with a 14-13 defeat of Cal Baptist on March 26 before coming back the next day for two games, falling first to No. 5 Hawaii, 9-5, before defeating Concordia, 19-7. On the final day, the Sun Devils wrapped up a 3-1 weekend with an 11-4 defeat of Santa Clara.

The Sun Devils went 2-2 at the UC Irvine Invitational over the weekend, winning their first and last came of the competition to place seventh overall in the 16-team field. No. 9 Arizona State opened with a 10-9 defeat of No. 11 San Jose State before falling to No. 1 Stanford, 15-7, on the first day of action. On Sunday, ASU fell to No. 4 California, 15-7, before rebounding to take a come-from-behind 9-8 upset of No. 7 San Diego State in the seventh-place game. Shannon Haas led the way with eight goals, including four against SJSU, while Lynlee Smith led the team in points on the weekend with nine on two goals and seven assists.

Heading into the weekend, Shannon Haas was second on the team in scoring with nine goals in six games. At the UC Irvine Invitational, she jumped into a tie for the team lead as she netted eight goals in four games to bring her season total to 17. Haas opened the weekend with a four-goal performance against No. 11 San Jose State and added a trio of goals against No. 4 California.

At the UC Irvine Invitational, two Sun Devils spread the wealth to her teammates, including Lynlee Smith and Ianeta Hutchinson. Smith led the way with seven assists in four games, including three each against No. 11 San Jose State and No. 4 California while Hutchinson had three assists from her goalie position in ASU’s 9-8 upset of No. 7 San Diego State.

In the latest release of conference statistics, three Sun Devils are among the Top 25 in scoring in the MPSF, including two in the Top 12. Both Mariam Salloum and Shannon Haas have tallied 17 goals in 10 games, giving them each a 1.70 goals per game average that ranks 11th in the league. Kelsey White also is on the list this week as her 1.40 average (14 goals in 10 games) stands 22nd this week based on her average.

Through 10 games this season, two Sun Devils continue to add to their stellar career numbers and move up the all-time Top 10 lists in Arizona State history. Lynlee Smith is currently standing fourth in goals scored (126) and points (184) while ranking sixth in assists (58). With two more goals, she will tie Kelly Phelps for third all-time while three points will tie her for third with Katie Hedley (187). Mariam Salloum also is climbing higher on the lists as her 128 points (65 goals, 63 assists) stands eighth overall and is three away from Katy Lawlor and eighth all-time. Salloum also is one spot ahead of Smith in career assists with 63 and needs 12 more to tie Tessa Wyborny for fourth.

Nikki Unbehaun scored the first three goals of her senior season this weekend, giving her 74 for her career and moving her up to No. 9 all-time in school history. She is 26 goals away from becoming the sixth Sun Devil to score 100 goals in a career and just six goals from becoming the ninth to score 80 or more.

The Bruins come to Tempe with a 16-3 overall record and stand 0-1 in the MPSF. The third-place finishers at the UC Irvine Invitational last weekend, UCLA’s offense is led by senior Priscilla Orozco, who is averaging 2.26 goals per game after netting 43 goals in 19 games this season. UCLA’s only losses this year have come to No. 2 USC (twice) and No. 5 Hawaii (in overtime in their MPSF game in Los Angeles).

After an 11-4 defeat of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Wednesday night, the Lancers head to Tempe with a 10-5 record on the strength of winning their last six in a row. Petra Kovacs leads the offense with 27 goals while Christina Webb has 26 for a team that will be playing its only two games outside of the state of California this weekend when they take on UCLA and ASU in Tempe.

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 ACWPCA selected nine individual Sun Devils for All-Academic honors following the 2010 season while also honoring Arizona State as an All-Academic Team. As a whole, the team carried a 3.13 grade-point average, which was the 14th-best in the nation and second in the MPSF. Individually, Becca Clopp, Mariam Salloum and Bonnie Miles were first-team honorees; second team honors went to Amanda Young, Nikki Unbehaun and Shannon Haas; and third team accolades were earned by Sarah Harris, Dana Harvey and Annabelle Carter. Each of those women carried a GPA of 3.20 or better.

Four Sun Devils are entering their final collegiate campaign as the 2011 season will be the senior years for Sarah Harris (Cape Town, South Africa), Candice Phillippe (West Vancouver, B.C., Canada), Lynlee Smith (Auckland, New Zealand) and Nikki Unbehaun (Ann Arbor, Mich).

Six newcomers have joined the Sun Devils this season, including four freshmen and two new members of the coaching/support staff. In the pool, the freshman class including Lucy Baranyi (Budapest, Hungary), Paige Hacker (Phoenix), Ianeta Hutchinson (Auckland, New Zealand) and Madison Moore (Malvern, Pa.). Also new to the team are Laszlo Hruza, the team’s assistant coach, and Christina Hewko, a graduate assistant with the program.

One of the new Sun Devils, Paige Hacker, holds an interesting distinction as well heading into the season: she is the first player from the state to earn a place on the Sun Devil roster. A graduate of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Hacker has been a part of the growth of the sport in the Grand Canyon State from Day One, playing on men’s teams and eventually working her way onto a U.S. Cadet National and Junior National Training Teams, the pipeline to the national team.

With the addition of Lucy Baranyi, a native of Hungary, the 2011 Sun Devil roster now features seven different nations. The nations represented included Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

Recently, Todd Clapper signed six individuals to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. Those individuals include: Makenzy Fowler (Santa Barbara, Calif.); E.B. Keeve (Naperville, Ill.); Anna Kertes (Csongrad, Hungary); Rita Keszthelyi (Budapest, Hungary); Liz Kreek (Bellevue, Wash.); and Petra Pardi (Budapest, Hungary).

For the sixth year in a row, Todd Clapper will lead the program as the Sun Devils’ head coach and will continue to work toward Arizona State’s rise toward the top of the standings. In his previous five seasons, Clapper’s teams have built a 79-70 overall record while playing in the toughest conference in the nation, the MPSF. His teams also continue to hold rankings in the national Top 10 throughout the season and have climbed as high as No. 6 (three times in 2010). With a strong group of returning players and the addition of several top-notch newcomers, Clapper’s work is paying off for the program that is entering just its 10th year as a varsity program.

The Sun Devils will return to California next weekend with games on Friday and Saturday. First up, ASU will take on No. 2 USC at 5 p.m. on Friday in Los Angeles. Then, on Saturday, the Sun Devils will compete in the Claremont Convergence. The Sun Devils’ opponents and game times will be announced next week.