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Water polo looks to continue winning ways in San Diego

February 10, 2012

Triton Invitational - Complete ASU Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

The #5 Arizona State University water polo team heads to its third tournament in as many weeks as the squad heads back to California for the 2012 Triton Invitational in San Diego, Calif., hosted by UC San Diego on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12.  This will be the first elimination tournament of the season for the Sun Devils with 16 teams competing in a double-elimination format.  Eleven of the top 20 teams in the country will see action in the event with Arizona State the highest-ranked team amongst them.  ASU will open Saturday morning against CSU Bakersfield at 8:30 a.m. at the Triton Pool and wil then face either #16 UC Santa Barbara or #18 UC San Diego in the afternoon match as they try to advance to the second day. 


The #5 Sun Devils are one of 11 teams ranked in the top 20 in the most recent Collegiate Water Polo Association poll.  The field also includes #6 UC-Irvine, #9 San Diego State, (also) #9 Indiana, #12 Loyola Marymount, #14 Long Beach State, #15 Hartwick, #16 UC Santa Barbara, #17 Maryland, #18 UC San Diego and #19 CSU Northridge.  The Sun Devils are on the same side of the bracket as Indiana and Loyola Marymount, which would be the two highest-ranked teams ASU could face before the championship match.  This will be the first championship-style tournament that ASU will compete in this season after playing round-robin tournaments at the UC Santa Barbara Winter Invite the the Cal Baptist Mini Lance Invite to start the season.

A LOOK BACK - Cal Baptist Mini Lancer Invite

The Sun Devils were the de facto champions for the second consecutive tournament as the squad was undefeated at the Mini Lancer Invite hosted by Cal Baptist.  ASU scored victories over #20 CSU Northridge (10-5), CSU Bakersfield (14-7) and CSU San Bernardino (21-2) on the weekend to improve to 8-0 and the best start in program history. ASU outscored its opponents 45-14 over the course of the tournament with goalkeeper Ianetta Hutchinson having the weekend of her career with 30 saves in three games  while holding San Bernardino to just two goals.  


Literally one of the last additions to the 2012 roster, senior transfer Alicia Brightwell wasted no time letting her presence be known.  Brightwell netted 16 goals over five games in the team's opening weekend and added nine assists to that tally.  Both marks lead the team.  The effort garnered the Sydney, Australia native Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week honors.  A competitor for the Australian senior national team, Brightwell's added three more goals against CSU Northridge last weekend before having to sit out the final two matches with a head injury. Her 19 goals currently rank her in a tie for second in the MPSF conference. 


Despite the dominance of the Sun Devil offense last weekend, it was set up by a stifling defense that is led by Ianeta Hutchinson in the goal.  Hutchinson had 30 saves in three games while allowing just 14 goals for .682 save percentage.  The Auckland, New Zealand native currently leads the conference with 79 saves and her 9.88 saves per game on the season ranks second in the MPSF.


In the latest national Top 20 rankings, the Sun Devils into the top five for just the second time in program history at #5 overall.  The team opened up the season at #7, it's second-highest opening ranking in history and moved to #6 through their first two weekends of play.  The team is off to the best start in program history at 8-0 and will look to continue building on that number heading into this weekend.


Arizona State head coach Todd Clapper earned his 200th career victory during the team's opening in the squads 15-5 defeat over CSU Bakersfield.  Clapper is now 204-157 in his 13th year as head coach with a 99-84 record at Arizona State and will have a shot to earn his 100th ASU victory - also against CSU Bakersfield - this weekend.


Arizona State moved into the top-five nationally, coming in at #5 in this week's CWPA Coaches Poll, for just the third time in program history and for the first time  since March 2009.  The Sun Devils started the season at #7 and moved up to #6 through the first two weekends of play before moving up another spot this week.