Newcomers Shine in Water Polo's Opening Day
TEMPE, Ariz. – In the Friday doubleheader, Sun Devil Water Polo dropped two close contests to two top-10 teams in UCI and Fresno State, but many newcomers shined in their first appearance in the maroon and gold.
"This is a big tournament to start." Noted Head Coach Todd Clapper, as the team has two more opportunities to play this weekend. "Our goal tomorrow… now that we're understanding the pace of the game and the aggressiveness and the intensity they (Cal) play with. It'll be another notch higher."
The starting seven for the Sun Devils had two new faces in Bianca Becerra and Vanda Baksa in both games. In a game the Sun Devils never fell out of, Vanda Baksa and Emily Bennett recorded their first Sun Devil goals, but the early Fresno State lead was the difference in the game though ASU went on to score seven goals in the final three frames, while Fresno State scored eight in that span.
Vanda draws the exclusion and assists on the goal, and we're back up one ?? pic.twitter.com/TaKvsMHKJN
— Sun Devil Water Polo (@SunDevilWP) January 21, 2022
Graduate Amira Van Buren had herself a game against the bulldogs, and recorded four goals, which matched her 2021 season-high after recording four goals twice last season. Lara Kiss also tied a 2021 season-high in single game assists with four today after noticing four assists at #14 Indiana on March 27, 2021.
Against UCI, the Sun Devils came out hot and picked up the first two goals from Vanda Baksa off of penalty shots, but UCI matched their intensity. Baksa was good for those two early goals and tacked on four more assists to put her at six points. She totaled nine points on the day, which is the most in two games for a freshman since Luca Petovary's 12 points in the two games against SDSU.
Stevilyn Griffin added to the newcomer scoring frenzy, and had two goals against No. 7 UCI. UCI's two goals in the fourth quarter were the difference for the Anteaters in their 11-10 defeat.
"They did great." Impressed with the performance of the newcomers, "I really like the pieces that we have, I like where we're at right now and where we're headed.
ASU will play in one of the four games at Mona Plummer tomorrow in the Cross Conference Challenge to host No. 5 California. The Sun Devils last faced Cal in the MPSF Tournament last season where the 12-8 win sealed the deal for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.