You can't stop ‘em, you can only hope to waterlog ‘em.
Another weekend meant another impressive tournament victory for the Arizona State water polo team, ranked No. 5 in the nation. Already riding a program best 8-0 start entering the Triton Invitational, the Sun Devils continued their domination of the chlorinated waves this weekend, winning all four of their matches during the two-day tournament, including a 8-4 win over No. 6 UC Irvine in the Finals.
ASU opened the tournament by facing Cal State Bakersfield for the third straight weekend. Much like the previous two meetings, this match resulted in a comfortable Sun Devil win. After a first quarter that ended evenly knotted at three, the Devils pulled away thanks to a relentless offense led by Annabelle Carter and leading scorer Alicia Brightwell, who combined for seven goals in the 16-7 win.
The day's second game was another rematch, this time against No. 16 UC Santa Barbara, who the Devils defeated 12-7 in the season's opening match. This time, the contest was much closer, as both teams displayed defensive proficiency. Brightwell notched another two goals as ASU held a 7-3 lead heading into the final quarter. That margin would be enough, as despite going scoreless in the fourth, the Devils held on for the 7-5 win.
Sunday would prove to be another tough test, as ASU faced off against Loyola Marymount in the semifinals. The Sun Devils jumped out a 4-1 lead after the first quarter and 8-5 after the third. But the Lions mounted a furious comeback to close the gap, but ultimately fell just a goal short as ASU escaped with the 10-9 win. Leading the way offensively was the dynamic scoring duo of Brightwell and Carter, who combined for seven goals.
The finals matchup with UC Irvine was a rematch of ASU's 9-8 win on January 28th. This would prove to be another hard fought game, but as ASU had done in recent matches, it leaned hard on the defense and it delivered. Goaltender Ianeta Hutchinson proved to be a riddle UC Irvine couldn't solve, notching 13 saves, and another Brightwell hat trick sparked the offense as ASU took home the 8-4 win and the tournament title.
The victory runs the Sun Devils' record to 12-0 on the season, extending their school record. They will be back in action on February 24th in the UC Irvine Tournament. Their first match in home waters will be March 3rd against San Diego State.
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