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Water polo plays host to ASU invite

March 26, 2008

Coming off its second huge upseM[Pt of the year, an 8-7 defeat of No. 4 California (March 15), the No. 7 Arizona State University water polo team (13-9, 3-4 MPSF) will return to the pool this weekend as hosts of the ASU Invitational on Saturday and Sunday at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe. The Sun Devils will face Pacific at 11 a.m. and CS San Bernardino at 2:50 p.m. on Saturday before playing Cal Baptist at 10:20 a.m. and No. 19 UC San Diego at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday.

The Sun Devils' game with Pacific, a league foe, will count towards the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) standings for this year.

Here are the game times for this weekend's ASU Invitational (all games will be played at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center):
- Saturday: UC San Diego vs. CS San Bernardino (9:30 am), ASU vs. Pacific (11 am), UC San Diego vs. Cal Baptist (1:30 pm), ASU vs. CS San Bernardino (2:50 pm) and Pacific vs. Cal Baptist (5 pm).
- Sunday: UC San Diego vs. Pacific (9 am), ASU vs. Cal Baptist (10:20 am), CS San Bernardino vs. Pacific (1 pm) and ASU vs. UC San Diego (2:20 pm).

The second time around proved to be better than the first for the Sun Devils in two ways on March 15 as Arizona State both avenged an earlier loss to California and upset the fourth-ranked Golden Bears to give ASU its first win over the No. 4 team this year in two tries (L, 13-12, home, N. 4 Hawai'i on February 20). The Sun Devils and Golden Bears played on February 9 with Cal taking an 11-7 victory at the Stanford Invitational.

The Sun Devils have defeated three teams ranked higher than them this season, including an 8-5 defeat of then-No. 2 USC at the Stanford Invitational, a 7-5 defeat of No. 8 San Jose State in San Jose, Calif., and an 8-7 victory over No. 4 California last time out in Tempe. The Sun Devils were ranked No. 10 in the first two upset victories this year and moved up to No. 8 before downing the Golden Bears.

The Sun Devils, ranked 10th at the time, went 2-2 at the Stanford Invitational and finished seventh overall. The highlight came in the first of two games on Sunday as Arizona State handed No. 2 USC an 8-5 defeat, marking the highest ranked foe ASU has defeated in program history. The win, ASU's first over a Top 3 team in 23 tries against the Top 3 programs, surpassed the Sun Devils' 8-5 defeat of then-No. 4 Hawai'i at the 2006 Stanford Invite.

Arizona State's win over USC was not only historic for the Sun Devils as their highest ranked opponent they have defeated, but it also marked the first time since the NCAA began sponsoring a national tournament (2001) that a team outside of the Top 5 has knocked off a team in the Top 3 while also becoming just the fourth program to defeat USC in that span. The only other time a team other than UCLA or Stanford has defeated USC since 2001 was when No. 4 Hawai'i scored a 10-9 defeat of the top-ranked Trojans at the MPSF Championships in Irvine (April 29, 2006). Loyola Marymount, ranked fifth and seeded third at the NCAA Championships, was the other team outside of the Top 3 to defeat a Top 3 team when it upset No. 2 Stanford in the national semifinals at the 2004 tournament in Palo Alto, Calif.

With their win over No. 4 California (8-7), the Sun Devils recorded just their fifth all-time win against a team ranked No. 5 or higher and won for the second time this year. Entering the season, Arizona State had not defeated a No. 2 team (W, 8-5, USC) and was 1-7 all-time against the No. 4 team before downing Cal.

Senior goalie Caylinn Wallace recorded 15 saves against No. 4 California, including two one-on-one breakaways, to lead the Sun Devils to an 8-7 victory at home on March 15. Following her third game in a row with 15 saves, Wallace was named MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week, earning her third career weekly honor from the league. Wallace, who shares this week's award with UCLA's Courtney Mathewson, is receiving the honor from the MPSF for the third time in her career. She was first honored during the 2005 season (April 3) when she recorded a school-record 22 saves in ASU's 8-7 overtime upset of No. 8 UC Santa Barbara. Her second honor came in 2006 (April 23) when her seven saves and four steals led the Sun Devils to a 5-4 defeat of No. 8 San Diego State.

Caylinn Wallace has recorded 15 saves in each of her last three games to bring her to the top of both the MPSF and fourth in the national statistics with 225 saves on the year. Currently, her 10.23 saves per game average ranks as the best in the MPSF while her save total is 35 ahead of second place. Wallace is the only goalie averaging 10 or more saves per game this year in the MPSF.

Following her 15-save performance against No. 4 California, Caylinn Wallace brought her career saves total to 966, meaning she needs just 34 saves this weekend to break the 1,000 save mark. If she maintains her average of 10.23 saves per game, she should record her 1,000th save in the final game of the ASU Invitational, against No. 19 UC San Diego.

When the Sun Devils play the Coyotes of CS San Bernardino, the game will feature two of the Top 10 goalies in the nation as both are ranked in the Top 8 in overall saves this season and average more than 9.0 saves per contest. For the Sun Devils, Caylinn Wallace ranks fourth in total saves with 225 and a 10.23 saves per game average while CSUSB's Bryanna Burns has recorded 198 saves and averages 9.0 per game.

Offensively, two players ranking in the Top 10 in goal scoring will face one another in the ASU-CSUSB game while two Top 15 players will meet in the ASU-Pacific contest. Currently, Addison McGrath is 10th in the nation with 55 goals scored while CSUSB's Freyja Berg has scored 66 (second) and Pacific's Kellie Fletcher (12th) has scored 51 on the year.

Addison McGrath scored four goals at No. 8 San Jose State on March 1, all of which came in the second quarter, for her 11th multiple-goal game of the year. It was her second goal, however, that is historic as it gave her 135 for her career and the school's scoring record, surpassing the 134 scored by Katie Hedley (2004-07). McGrath netted three more against No. 4 California last time out to bring her career-total to 148.

To take over the scoring record, McGrath has scored at least one goal in 66 of her 77 career games played and tallied two or more 40 times. She has recorded games with three or more on 24 occasions, including nine games with three, 14 games with four and one game with seven, a school-record. Comparatively, former scoring champion Katie Hedley scored multiple goals in 42 games with only 14 games of three or more goals.

Addison McGrath could break more records this year. The record for goals in a season is 63 by Rowie Webster in 2006 (McGrath had 54 last year) and 88 points, which McGrath set last year in 28 games played. Currently, McGrath has scored 55 goals (second-most) and has accumulated 84 points (second-most).

While the team took the weekend off last week, Addison McGrath was still competing, picking up a javelin for the ASU Track & Field team. McGrath recorded a toss of 44.34m (145-06) to place fifth in her first competition in the event and move into the No. 4 spot on ASU's all-time Top 10 list. Her mark also qualified her for the NCAA West Region Championships, the qualifier for the NCAA Track & Field Championships.

In the game with No. 9 UC Irvine, freshman Lauren Hayes scored twice, bringing her season total to 15, which is the 10th-most in a rookie season.

Following their upset of No. 4 California, the Sun Devils climbed from No. 8 to No. 7 and remain at No. 7 for the second week in a row. Only one of the Sun Devils' opponents for this weekend is nationally ranked as UC San Diego is currently tied for No. 19 with Santa Clara.

The Sun Devils are 3-4 and tied for seventh with UC Irvine and Long Beach State in the latest MPSF standings after splitting a pair of road games last week. This week's opponent, Pacific, is in 13th with an 0-9 MPSF record.

Addison McGrath continues to lead the MPSF in scoring with 55 on the year while her 2.50 goals per game average is ranked second in the league. Goalie Caylinn Wallace also ranks highly in the league statistics as she leads the MPSF with 225 saves while her 10.23 saves per game average ranks first. As a team, the Sun Devils rank seventh in goals scored with 9.09 per game while the defense is seventh, allowing 7.36 per game.

Nationally, several Sun Devils rank highly, including Addison McGrath, who has scored the 10th-most goals in the nation at 55. Defensively, Caylinn Wallace's 225 saves are the fourth-most. As a team, the Sun Devils rank 12th defensively (7.36 goals per game allowed) while standing 22nd offensively (9.09 goals scored per game).

The Sun Devils are 9-2 all-time in the series with the Tigers, winning the last two meetings in a row and holding a 3-0 record in games played in Tempe. The last time the two teams played in Tempe, ASU won, 18-4, during the 2006 season.

The Sun Devils are tied, 2-2, with the Coyotes and have won the last two meetings. The last time the two teams met came in 2006 when ASU won, 15-8, at the Lancer Invitational.

The Sun Devils are 6-4 against the Lancers and have won six in a row, including an 11-4 victory at Cal Baptist earlier this season. The last time the two teams met in Tempe was in 2004 with ASU taking a 6-5 decision over the No. 19 Lancers.

The Sun Devils are tied, 3-3, with the Tritons and have won two in a row, including a 6-4 victory at the Michigan Invitational to open the year. Sunday's game will mark the first meeting in the series in Tempe.

Several Sun Devils are closing in on joining the Top 10 record list, half of which are looking to add their names to the career ledger. Katy Lawlor has 31 career assists and needs one more to tie for 10th all-time while Amanda Stepp (79) is four points away from tying for 10th. Kelly Phelps has scored 50 career goals and needs six more to tie for ninth. On the freshman lists, Candice Phillippe (nine) and Kristen Wagner (eight) are two and three assists away, respectively, from tying for 10th on the rookie charts.

Opening the year 8-3, the Sun Devils have tied the program record for best start as both the 2006 and 2008 squads opened the year 8-3. Both teams also posted six-game winning streaks during that span and placed seventh at the Stanford Invitational.

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 Sun Devils will return to the road on April 5 for a game at UC Santa Barbara at noon in Santa Barbara, Calif.