CSUN upsets No. 17 Arizona State in water polo finale

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The No. 19 CSUN water polo team upset the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils 7-6 in their final regular season match of the season Saturday afternoon. The win, pushed the Matadors back over .500 to 16-15 overall and 3-9 in the MPSF.

The Matadors got off to a quick start in the first quarter. Junior Chari Christopher scored the first goal of the game on an exclusion goal with 5:27 left in the quarter. Thirteen seconds later, freshman Allison Brookes scored her only goal of the match, giving the Matadors a 2-0 lead. The Sun Devils finally got on the board when junior Tessa Wyborny scored off an exclusion goal with 1:04 left, cutting the Matadors’ lead in half to end the quarter.

“It was nice to warm up quickly because we usually don’t,” said head coach Molly Barnes. “It was senior day so we came out with a lot of emotion and we were excited.”

However, the second quarter was dominated by Arizona State. Sophomore Katie Hedley scored the first of her game-high three goals for ASU to tie the score at two on a penalty goal with 3:59 remaining in the second quarter. Junior Kimberlee Stevens scored the last goal of the quarter for ASU, giving the Sun Devils a 3-2 lead with 2:55 left.

“ASU chipped away at our lead with their aggressive play,” Barnes said. “We needed to stop grabbing, play water polo and play our game.”

CSUN regrouped after halftime and dominated the third period, outscoring ASU 4-1. Klein scored an exclusion goal that tied the match at three with 5:19 remaining in the quarter.

The Matadors regained the lead on junior Erica Bonetti’s only goal of the match with 3:17 left in the third. CSUN scored its third-straight goal of the quarter when freshman Michelle Keeley scored with 2:13 left to give the Matadors a 5-3 advantage.

CSUN then took their biggest lead of the match when Klein scored with 1:18 to go on a penalty goal. The Sun Devils ended the Matadors’ streak when Hedley scored her second goal of the match with 1:02 left in the third quarter to cut CSUN’s lead to 6-4 entering the final quarter.

“I told the girls at halftime they need to look for the best shot because they have a very good goalie,” Barnes said. “We needed to stop trying to just throw the ball through her.”

Just like the second quarter, ASU started the fourth quickly. Hedley scored her third and final goal of the match on a penalty goal with 6:10 remaining in the period and trimmed the Matadors’ lead to one.

The Sun Devils then got an exclusion goal from freshman Katy Lawlor that tied the match at six with 4:34 left to go. Then, with the possibility of overtime only 2:46 away, Christopher scored her second goal of the game, on another exclusion goal, and that turned out to be the game winner.

“This was the most we have ever had to overcome to win a match,” Barnes said. “We had two ejections, two which were one call away from being ejected and one player injured. But everybody stepped up and played their hearts out.”

The Matadors will travel to Berkeley next weekend for the MPSF Tournament. The tournament runs from Friday through Sunday. CSUN’s first-round opponent will be No. 12 UC Irvine. CSUN last played Irvine March 29 and lost a close one to the Anteaters, 4-3

“We will spend all week preparing for UCI,” Barnes said. “They are a good team, but we have a great seed and we should have a great chance if we win the first game.”