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Arizona State closes water polo regular season with win over California

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The No. 6-ranked Arizona State water polo team closed its regular season with a 6-5 win over No. 4 California, as Petra Pardi scored three goals Saturday afternoon at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.

Goalkeeper E.B. Keeve posted 17 saves in the win for the Sun Devils, who improved to 14-8 and 2-4 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Golden Bears (17-6, 2-3) had 10 saves from Kelsey Roland.

“It was awesome,” ASU coach Todd Clapper said. “Last weekend, we were a little concerned because our intensity wasn’t quite there, other than the first quarter against Stanford. We had a tough week of practice, they responded well this week, we were kind of hoping that would carry us into a really intense, well-oiled kind of team, and they did that. They did a great job when they needed to do, they had a stop, they had a goal, E. B. was fantastic in goal today, did a really awesome job. She saved us in some crucial moments.”

Brazilian freshman Izabella Chiappini opened the scoring, followed with two goals from Pardi in the first quarter, as ASU took a 3-0 lead. Anna Illes and Dora Antal scored for Cal to cut the lead to one, before Liz Kreek and Ao Gao, the two-time Chinese Olympian, gave ASU a 5-3 advantage at halftime.

The Hungarian freshman Antal scored again to open the third quarter, to be answered with a goal from countrywoman Pardi for the Sun Devils. Freshman Roser Tarrango recorded a goal with six seconds remaining in the third and the lone point of the fourth quarter, but ASU held on for the win.

The Sun Devils move on to the MPSF Championships April 25-27 at Los Angeles.

“I think we’re on the right track now,” Clapper said. “If they continue to train like they are, there’s going to be MPSF, and a good possibility of the NCAA Tournament for the first time. What you want is the best game at the end, and it looks like we’re climbing that way.”

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