#5 ASU water polo swamps ranked teams at UCSB Invite

Arizona State‘s water polo team was the No. 5-ranked team in the country for most of last season, and began the 2013 schedule sitting in that same lofty perch.

But, based on the results of the weekend’s UC Santa Barbara Winter Invitational, they may not be there very long.  They may be moving up.

ASU blew through the six games of the season-opening tournament, outscoring the opposition, 67-36, to start the season 6-0.  The Sun Devils scored in double digits in all but one game.

And these were good teams they beat.  Five were nationally-ranked, two of them in the top 10.

No. 8 Loyola Marymount fell in the first day of the tournament when the Devils used five goals by Alicia Brightwell to swamp LMU in an 11-7 victory.  Brightwell is a first-team All-American that led the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) last season with 75 goals; her 2.78 goals per game were also best in the conference.

The game also marked the emergence of goal keeper, E.B. Keeve, a redshirt freshman who had 10 saves in just her second career start.  The 6’3″ import from Illinois, who was filling in for the injured returning keeper, Janeta Hutchinson, was also instrumental in the 5-4 victory over No. 6 UC Irvine on the final day of the tournament.  She had 12 saves in that game.

Keeve’s play throughout the invitational earned her MPSF Newcomer of the Week honors, while Brightwell was named the Player of the Week – the fourth time the senior captain from Australia has earned that honor while at ASU.

Brightwell finished the weekend with 17 goals.  Her six against CSU Northridge was the second-highest total in school history.

Keeve had some big shoes to fill in her first assignment in the net.  Hutchinson had 282 saves last season, which put her in second place for single-season totals in school history, and was expected to be back in the net when the season started.

The ASU romp through the California tournament also included wins over No. 15 UC Santa Barbara, No. 17 CSU Northridge, No. 18 Cal Baptist, and Concordia.

Last year the water polo team set a new school record with 25 wins and finished fifth at the MPSF Championships – which was also a school record for highest finish.  Their 376 team goals on the season… yep, another school record.

And, from the looks of it, the 2013 Sun Devil squad is picking up right where they left off.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)