MPSF Water Polo Results, Mar. 10

Emma Wright, Cal (Photo courtesy California)
Emma Wright, Cal (Photo courtesy California)
March 10, 2018

at California 5, UCLA 3

Recap by Cal

BERKELEY – The No. 1 Cal women's water polo team ended the week the same way it started – by making history.

The Bears, who rose to No. 1 in the national rankings for the first time in 18 years after knocking off undefeated and defending NCAA champion Stanford earlier in the week, registered its first win over UCLA in seven years Saturday with a 5-3 triumph at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

It was Cal's first victory over the Bruins since April 7, 2011 – ending a 16-game losing streak to UCLA.

"This last week has been amazing," senior Anna Illes said. "We were really pumped after beating Stanford, but we had some team meetings to make sure it wasn't just a one-time thing. We knew we had to come out hard today and show how good we actually are."

The Bears (14-3, 2-0 MPSF) beat the Bruins by playing a smothering brand of defense, holding UCLA scoreless for the final 17 minutes, 20 seconds – including the entire second half.

"That was one of the better defensive games for us in terms of really locking in and taking away what we want from the opponent," Cal head coach Coralie Simmons said. "Collectively, we played nicely together as a unit."

The Bruins led 3-1 with 1:20 left in the second quarter but didn't score again. Kacey Avalos' goal with 44 seconds left in the first half cut the deficit to 3-2, and sophomore Emma Wright tied it on a penalty shot midway through the third.

Senior Carla Carrega put the Bears in front less than a minute after Wright's goal, and Illes scored less than two minutes after that to make it 5-3.

Cal's defense did the work after that. Goalie Madison Tagg made five saves and the Bears limited UCLA to only a handful of quality scoring chances.

"The season is a big roller coaster," Simmons said. "We've been on a high, and now we just want to plateau. We don't want to get too high or too low. It's not time to get complacent or over-think things."

The Bears now have a full week off before visiting No. 6 Arizona State next Saturday.

Recaps by ASU

at Arizona State 15, Pomona 6

The No. 6 Sun Devil Water Polo wrapped up the annual ASU Invitational with a 15-6 victory over Pomona-Pitzer at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center Saturday evening.

With the victory, the Sun Devils (14-4) moved to 3-0 on the only day they will be competing at the ASU Invitational. ASU also moved to 6-1 at home this season and remained undefeated at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, with their only home loss coming at Sun Devil Fitness Center.

"The team did a nice job. Mia (Rycraw) was really great in goal. She was really our backbone of our defense" Coach Clapper said. "On the offensive end, we struggled at times at the beginning of games, but to the team's credit they made a lot of adjustments and by the end of the game they were doing a good job of setting up their teammates."

The Sun Devils offense was clicking on all cylinders from the initial whistle in this one, as eight different players finished the night with at least one goal. Rosie Huck was a standout throughout the match, as the junior compiled a career-high five goals against the Sagehens. Huck became the first Sun Devil this season to score over five goals. She had plenty of help on the offensive end today, including Maud Koopman who notched her first four-goal game of the season.

Arizona State controlled the action during the first eight minutes, finding themselves ahead 6-0 at the end of one. Julia Reyes would open up the scoring in the match for the Sun Devils, followed shortly after by Maud Koopman who cashed in on a feed from Kayla Casas to extend the ASU lead to 2-0. Rosie Huck would take over the rest of the period, as the center could not be stopped by the Pomona-Pitzer defense. Huck scored three goals over the final 3:37 of the first period to help spot the Sun Devils to a 6-0 advantage. Goalie Mia Rycraw picked up where she left off in the previous two matches, as the senior goalkeeper did not allow a goal and recorded four saves in her one period of action.

The second period would feature much of the same, as the Sun Devil offense found a groove and maintained a high-level of play allowing them to get out to a 12-3 lead at the half. Goalie Belen Ehinger would replace Mia Rycraw to begin the second period, a valuable opportunity for the freshman to gain more experience. She was helped out by a relentless offensive effort, led by Rosie Huck and Maud Koopman. Huck, Koopman, and Mihailovic would each score unanswered goals to push the Sun Devil lead to 9-1. Later in the period, freshman Layla Waters would register her first career goal, scoring a power play goal to make it 10-2 ASU.

Coach Todd Clapper would take advantage of a healthy 12-3 halftime advantage to rotate in athletes to accelerate their growth and allow them to gain more experience. Kate Cassidy was one of those players that took great advantage of the increased playing time, as she scored her first career goal late in the third period to give the Sun Devils a 15-4 lead through three.

"Those players are working really hard so it is good for them to get in there" Coach Clapper remarked. "When they have gotten opportunities earlier in the season to play, they some of the nerves were there. Now, it is good to see them feeling a little more comfortable there on the offensive end and wanting to score goals."

Amira Van Buren would open up the scoring in the second half for the Sun Devils, continuing her strong play on the day. Rosie Huck added yet another goal before Kate Cassidy found the back of the net as mentioned above to provide the Sun Devils a 15-4 lead through three.

Goalie Sophia Burgess would replace Belen Ehinger in net midway through the final period, with the Sun Devils leading the Sagehens 15-5. Burgess would finish the game in net, recording three saves to allow ASU to cruise to a 15-6 victory in the nightcap of the ASU Invitational.

at Arizona State 14, Fresno State 3

No. 6 Sun Devil Water Polo picked up a dominating 14-3 victory over No. 25 Fresno State in their second match of the ASU Invitational Saturday afternoon at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.

The 11-goal margin of victory represents the largest on the season and was the second win by double-figures on the day. 12 of the 14 wins for the Sun Devils this season have come against teams currently ranked in the CWPA Top 25. This was the first matchup ever between these two teams, as Fresno State is currently in their inaugural season with the program established last year.

The Sun Devil defense continued to put pressure on opposing offenses, as they held the Bulldogs until 2:17 left in the first half. Mia Rycraw was once again the anchor of that imposing defense, as the senior recorded nine saves after recording a season-high 16 earlier in the day. Rycraw has reached the double-figure saves plateau in 6 of her last 8 matches. The offense had several contributors, featuring Rosie Huck and Lena Mihailovic who each finished with four goals apiece. Amira Van Buren registered her first career hat trick after putting together a three-goal performance.

A slow first period of action picked up when Alkistis Benekou beat the Bulldogs goaltender to put the Sun Devils on the board to give them a 1-0 lead. Amira Van Buren would convert on a 6-on-5 opportunity to give ASU a 2-0 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.

Two consecutive goals from Lena Mihailovic would extend the Sun Devil lead to 4-0. Rosie Huck would tally the first of many goals to come, pushing ASU ahead 5-0 midway through the second period. Mia Rycraw would keep Fresno State off the board until a late goal with 2:17 left before the half trimmed the Sun Devil lead to 5-1. Alkistis Benekou would score her second goal of the match with 22 second left in the first half to spot the Sun Devils a 6-1 lead at the break.

The second half was much of the same, as Arizona State dominated both ends in a balanced effort. After Rosie Huck opened the scoring in the half for ASU, Amira Van Buren would step up on her way to a career performance. The freshman scored two goals over the final 2:53 of the third period to capture her first ever hat trick.

With the Sun Devils leading 10-2 at the end of three, Lena Mihailovic would put the game out of reach with a pair of goals in the first minute of the final period. Rosie Huck would take over from there, as she scored the final two goals of the game for the Sun Devils to give her a total of four on the night. Goalie Belen Ehinger would relieve Mia Rycraw in net midway through the final period with the Sun Devils leading 12-2. Ehinger would finish out the game and keep Arizona State in front helping them win by their largest margin of the season, 14-3.

at Arizona State 12, Indiana 2

TEMPE, Ariz. – The No. 6 Sun Devil Water Polo kicked off the annual ASU Invitational with a 12-2 victory over T-No. 13 Indiana at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center Saturday morning.

The win represents the Sun Devils 11 over a team currently ranked in the CWPA Top 25 rankings. This the second time ASU has defeated Indiana this season, outscoring the Hoosiers 22-5 over two matches. The Sun Devils defense allowed a season-low two goals which represented the lowest total scored by Indiana this season.

Mia Rycraw looked sharp early and often in the match, as she stifled the Indiana attack on her way to a season-high 16 saves. The offense was led by Alkistis Benekou and Bente Rogge, who both recorded hat tricks in the victory. Amira Van Buren finished with a pair of goals, giving her the first multi-goal game of her career.

After a first period controlled by both defenses, the Sun Devils offense broke out in the second period with four goals to take a 4-0 lead on the Hoosiers going into halftime. Arizona State would dominate the second half, holding Indiana scoreless until the 2:14 was left in the game.

The first eight minutes would remain scoreless, as Mia Rycraw was spectacular in net. She displayed her tremendous athleticism on several highlight-reel saves to keep the game scoreless after one. Bente Rogge would open up the scoring for the Sun Devils in the second period, tallying a goal at the 6:58 mark to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead. The floodgates would open offensively from that point on, as Arizona State established confidence offensively leading to several prime scoring chances. ASU would score three goals over the final 3:21 of the half to enter the break with a 4-0 lead. Alkistis Benekou's goal was the first of the aforementioned goals, followed by Lena Mihailovic and eventually Amira Van Buren, who now has goals in consecutive games.

The Sun Devils would go on to outscore the Hoosiers, 4-0, in the third period to extend their lead to 8-0. Alkistis Benekou and Bente Rogge both scored their second goals of the match early in the period to get ASU off to a strong start in the second half. With 3:42 left in the third, Benekou recorded her third goal to give her the fourth hat trick of the season. Less than a minute later, Maud Koopman joined in on the scoring action, beating the Hoosier goaltender with a perfectly placed shot to provide the Sun Devils with an 8-0 lead at the end of three.

Mia Rycraw continued to play terrific in net into the fourth period, as she prevented Indiana from scoring until the 2:14 mark in the contest. Before the Hoosiers scored their goals, Alkistis Benekou and Bente Rogge were not done finding the back of the net. Benekou tallied her fourth while Rogge recorded her third to give the Sun Devils a 10-0 lead. Julia Reyes, who has goals in five of her last six games, scored her first of the match to extend the lead to 11-0. After Indiana finally got on the scoreboard late in the match, Amira Van Buren would respond less than 30 seconds later beating the goaltender with a rocket of a shot. ASU would go on to win the contest by a score of 12-2.