Water polo opens season in Santa Barbara

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The #6 Arizona State University water polo team will open the 2012 season this weekend as the team heads to Santa Barbara, Calif., to do square off with #17 UC Santa Barbara before continuing the weekend in Santa Barbara at the UCSB Winter Invite at the UCSB Campus Pool in a weekend that will see the Sun Devils take part in five different games between Friday and Sunday. 

The Sun Devils (0-0, 0-0 MPSF) will open the competition against the host Gauchos (2-3) on Friday, Jan. 27, at Noon PST in an event that is separate from the Invitational the team will take part in the rest of the weekend.

ASU will then have two games on Saturday, Jan. 28, beginning with Santa Clara at 9:05 a.m. PT before facing their first toughest test of the early season in #7 UC-Irvine at 12:20 p.m. PT.

ASU will conclude the competition on Sunday, Jan. 29, with games slated against unranked squads for CSU Bakersfield at 8 a.m. PT and the tournament finale against Concordia at 2:30 p.m. PT. 

The Sun Devils enter the weekend ranked as high as they have been since 2008 despite just opening the season this weekend.  This comes as a product of returning a solid core of upper classmen, which includes one of last year's leading goal scorers in Mariam Salloum.  

The squad also returns Ianeta Hutchinson to the goal after a solid freshman season from the New Zealander last season and a host of newcomers who bring years of experience on the national and international level to the squad despite their youth.  

The team will look for immediate contributions from freshman Ao Gao and Petra Pardi as well as University of Sydney transfer, Alicia Brightwell

Stay tuned to TheSunDevils.com for a complete recap of the weekend's action at the conclusion of each day of events.