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Water polo set for MPSF Championships

April 27, 2012

MPSF Championship - ASU Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

The #5 Arizona State University water polo team will head to Palo Alto, Calif., this weekend for the MPSF Conference Championships, hosted by Stanford at the Avery Aquatic Center on Friday and Saturday.  Arizona State will take on #4 Cal  at 4 p.m. PST on Friday, April 26.  Live updates of the competition will be posted on Twitter and fans can follow along @MPSF_WPChamp.  There will also be a live video feed from the competition at


The Golden Bears enter the weekend having posted a 17-7 overall record on the season and were 4-3 in conference play.  The teams finished tied in the conference rankings, but ASU was granted the four-seed due to knocking off Cal at home, 10-7, when the two teams faced earlier this season.  Prior to that, the Sun Devil had actually fallen to Cal earlier in the season at the UCI Invite, 8-5.  The winner of the tilt will take on the winner of the Stanford-Hawai’i matchup in the semifinal of the MPSF Championships.


The MPSF Championships serve as a selection tool for entrance into the NCAA Championships that will be hosted by San Diego State in San Diego, Calif., May 11-13. The winner of the MPSF event earns an automatic berth into the national tournament while the remaining seven teams in the league will be part of a pool of potential at-large selections, which will once again be three this season. The MPSF is one of five qualifying conferences for the NCAA event, which is comprised of eight teams.


The 2012 campaign was a monumental year for the Sun Devil water polo team.  The squad set a new school record with 23 wins on the season and the team’s fourth-place MPSF ranking is also tops in school history.  The team tallied 345 goals on the year, also good for a new school record and the high-powered offense tallied 15 or more goals on nine separate occasions on the year.  The team earned its first MPSF victory since 2008 while five different student-athletes scored 40 or more goals on the year for the first time in school history.  


Senior Alicia Brightwell took home the MPSF regular season goal title with 63 goals on the season, good for the third highest single season tally in school history.  Brightwell’s 2.63 goals per game were also tops in the conference and her 21 games with two or more goals easily paced the Sun Devils on the season.  


Junior Shannon Haas had perhaps the best performance in the nation against the San Diego State this season as she scored a career-high seven goals from the center position to help ASU to the 12-3 upset.  Haas’ seven goals tied a school record with ASU greats Addison McGrath and Lynlee Smith and was the most for a single game among all MPSF student-athletes this season. Haas has already matched her career high with 47 goals on the year and her 128 goals sit fifth in ASU history.


It’s a shame that senior Annabelle Carter was only able to apply her talents to the Sun Devils for three seasons.  In that time, Carter moved herself into eighth on ASU’s career list with 99 goals and seventh in school history with 72 assists.  Her 79 points on the current season (43 goals, 36 assists) are good for the 10th-best single season points total in school history while her 36 assists sit fourth on ASU’s single-season lists.


Goalkeeper Ianeta Hutchinson continues to rise the all-time saves list and she has bee a large part of ASU’s success on the season.  Hutchinson’s 251 saves on the season were good for the fourth-best single season total in school history and gave her 422 for her career, already good for second on ASU’s all time list.  In addition, Hutchinson posted a career high save percentage of 58% while allowing a career-low 6.46 goals per game, good for seventh on ASU’s single-season lists and her 8.96 saves per game this year were good for fourth in school history.


Freshman Anna Kertes established herself as one of the top freshman in the nation with her play in 2012.  Kertes’ 45 goals were the second-most among freshmen in the conference and third-highest tally in ASU history among freshmen.  Her four first-half goals against No. 2 Stanford earlier this year kept the Sun Devils in that game and the Hungarian has notched two or more goals in 10 games this season. 


Alongside Kertes, fellow Hungarian freshmen Petra Pardi has also established herself as someone who can be a force at the center position as the season goes on.  Three times this season, Pardi has notched five goals in a game - the only freshmen to ever accomplish the feat. In addition, only ASU great Lynlee Smith had ever scored five or more goals in a game on three separate occasions in one season before Pardi.  Pardi’s 30 goals this year rank 10th in ASU freshmen history. 


In the latest national CWPA Coach Poll, the Sun Devils currently sit fifth in the nation and have remained in the top-5 for almost the entirety of the season.  ASU spent four weeks at the No. 4 position this year, easily it’s longest streak at the spot in school history and will take on the team that unseeded them for that spot three weeks ago in a first-round MPSF matchup against Cal on Friday. 


Arizona State head coach Todd Clapper earned his 200th career victory during the team’s opening weekend in the squad’s 15-5 defeat over CSU Bakersfield.  A week later - and also against CSU Bakersfield - Clapper earned his 100th victory as head coach of the Sun Devils.  Clapper is now 211-159 in 13 years as a head coach and 106-86 in his seven years at Arizona State. 


The Sun Devils have faced numerous teams on multiple occasions this season, but the rematches against San Diego State and Cal are the reasons that we play the game.  A week removed from falling to SDSU at the UC Irvine Invite, 9-8, the Sun Devils absolutely demolished the Aztecs at home in a 12-3 rout after SDSU had moved to #5 in the nation.  At the same UC Irvine competition, the Sun Devils also dropped an 8-5 decision to the Golden Bears.  A week after knocking of SDSU, ASU did the same against then-No. 4 Cal in a 10-7 at home for perhaps one of the biggest victories in school history.  The Sun Devils will get their third crack on the Golden Bears on Friday.


The Sun Devils did in three consecutive weeks what Wile E. Coyote was never able to achieve in defeating the Roadrunners of CSU Bakersfield at the UC Santa Barbara Invite, the Cap Baptist Mini Triton Invite and the Triton Invite in the team’s season opening tournament sweeps.  ASU has outscored the Roadrunners 45-19 in the teams’ three meetings this year.  


With the Arizona State squad notching a school record in goals scored with 345, it goes without saying that the individual record books would need some re-writing as well.  Aliciai Brightwell paced the team with 63 goals on the year, taking the MPSF Conference regular season scoring title and moving to third on ASU’s all-time single-season scoring list.  Seniors Mariam Salloum and Annabelle Carter also climbed their way up the career lists with Salloum’s 45 goals on the year moving her to 132 for her career and fourth in school history while Carter’s 43 goals give her 99 career goals and rank her eighth in school history.  Junior Shannon Haas is well on pace to challenge for the No. 2 spot in school history next year as her 47 goals this year matches her career high and gives her 128 career goals thus far, good for a tie for fifth on ASU’s career list.


With all those goals being scored, it goes to figure that someone has to be feeding those athletes the ball and as such, the ASU career assists record books have also experienced a shift.  Annabelle Carter’s 36 goals on the season are good for the fourth-best single season tally in school history and give her 72 career assists, good for seventh on ASU’s all-time list.  Senior Kelsey White has added 25 assists this year to give her 58 on her career and move her into ninth in school history.  Mariam Salloum’s 27 assists on the season give her 104 on her career and rank her third in ASU history in the category.


And naturally, with so many goals and assists being tallied, the career points list are on the rise as well.  With 21 assists to go with her 63 goals, Alicia Brightwell’s single-season total of 84 points is good for sixth on ASU’s all-time list while Annabelle Carter’s 79 points (43 goals, 36 assists) rank 10th all-time.   In the career category, Mariam Salloum moved into third all-time with 236 points (132 goals, 104 assists) while Carter ranks seventh despite playing just three years with 171 points (99 goals and 72 assists) and fellow senior Kelsey White is 10th with 143 career goals (85 goals, 58 assists).  


The seniors weren’t the only one’s tearing up the record books in 2012 as two freshman also placed their stamp as well.  Anna Kertes moved into the third on ASU’s freshman goals list with 45 goals this season, a tally that also ranked second among freshman in the conference.  Her 12 assists also give her 57 points on the year, which is good for fourth on the all-time ASU freshman list.  Teammate and fellow Hungarian Petra Pardi also moved into the goal list wit 30 on the season, good for 10th among ASU’s history of freshmen. 


Defense will win you games in just about any sport and water polo is no exception. While the Sun Devils have dominated their opponents on the offensive side - outscoring the opposition 245-182 on the year - it has been a stifling defense that has helped pace that run.  ASU forced 174 stealson the year while giving up just 100 turnovers.  In addition, the performance in the cage from second-year goalkeeper Ianeta Hutchinson was exceptional.  Hutchinson’s 251 saves on the season were good for the fourth-best single season total in school history and gave her 422 for her career, already good for second on ASU’s all time list.  In addition, Hutchinson posted a career high save percentage of 58% while allowing a career-low 6.46 goals per game, good for seventh on ASU’s single-season lists and her 8.96 saves per game this year were good for fourth in school history.


For the biggest difference between last year’s team and the current ASU squad, one need look no further than the goals scored category.  Through the entire season last year (MPSF Championships included), the Sun Devils notched just 247 goals.  Through the regular season in 2012, ASU has found the back of the net 345 times with the MPSF Championships and possibly the NCAA Championships still to add upon that.