By LynLee Smith
For ASU women’s waterpolo team, seven isn’t just a number used for good luck. For them, it’s the number of countries represented on the team. This year the Sun Devils show representation from South Africa, Germany, Hungary, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. When asked about playing in a foreign country with a diverse group of athletes, senior attacker Candice Phillippe said, “All the locations of our homes make us different and unique, but it’s our love for waterpolo that brings us together,”
Coming from Berlin, Germany Junior Mariam Salloum participated in the European Championships in Zareb, Croatia through August 2010. She recorded two goals and three assists and started in all four games for Germany. Salloum lead the Sun Devils in 2010 with 27 assists and third on the team with 50 points netting 23 goals.
Both Senior Sarah Harris and Junior Kelsey White made a big splash for South Africa over summer competing in World League in Greece and France. Harris, a super star in her first season for the Sun Devils, finished with 38 goals, 30 steals and recorded 14 assists. She was named MPSF newcomer of the week, All MPSF and All American Honourable Mention.
Captain of her South African side Harris says, “Playing internationally this summer was a great experience, it taught me so much about teamwork and developed my leadership skills.”
White stepped up her game from her freshman year and played an outstanding season for the Sun Devils last year, recording 46 points and 30 steals scoring multiple goals for the sun devils throughout the season. She was named most improved player in 2010 by Coach Todd Clapper.
Both Harris and White are looking forward at their future goal to compete at the 2011 World Champs in Shanghai next summer as well as their ultimate goal in competing for South Africa at the Olympic Games in London 2012.
Coming from down under are Senior Lynlee Smith, Junior Isabella Morrison, and a new addition to the team freshman goalie Ianetta Hutchinson. Both Smith and Morrison represented New Zealand in the 2010 FINA World Cup over summer in Christchurch, New Zealand. Competing against some of the best teams in the world, Smith finished the tournament netting seven goals for Kiwis while Morrison, a new addition to the New Zealand Senior National Team, saw game time and competed in all six matches.
Smith led the Sun Devils last year scoring goals in 27 of 31 matches. She recorded 17 assists with 24 steals topping the team with 15 multiple goal games. Morrison, stepping up her game from last semester, will see a considerable change in her playing time this year. She is a strong outside shooter and will be a very big threat for any opposing team that the Sun Devils face.
Sophomore, left-handed, attacker Annabelle Carter ended her first season for the Sun Devils with 43 points, 15 assists, 20 steals and 28 goals. As another addition to the team from down under, representing Sydney, Australia, Carter’s presence adds a little bit of cross Tasmin rivalry (the term used to describe the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand) to the team.
Working hard for Canada, Senior Candice Phillippe has competed at multiple CSL tournaments for the Canadian National Team over the fall season. Netting five goals in one game to bring her team to a victory, Phillippe will be a big attacking threat this season for the Sun Devils.
A new addition to the dynamic mix is goalie freshman Lucia Baranyi from Budapest, Hungary. Lucia has been competing for her club team BVSC and is currently part of the Hungarian 1991 National Squad, competing in multiple tournaments since 2005. Her experience and talents are going to make it difficult for any attacking team to score past her this year.
The Sun Devils Waterpolo programme was introduced in 2001 and has developed over the years with more recent highlights of beating top seeds USC and Cal in conference games in 2008 and swiping a victory over Cal Berkeley in 2009. With all the international experience this year the Sun Devils have high hopes to set new records and make the NCAA tournament in May 2011.
“I am really excited for this season, especially with all the international experience in this team, we have a great team dynamic and everyone has been working really hard through the off season in order to prepare for the competitive season we have ahead,” said senior Captain Nikki Unbehaun.
Ranked 12th going into last season, the Sun Devils have stiff competition to come up against. Having to compete for a top three position in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Conference to make NCAA’s, the Sun Devils will have to face and conquer their toughest rivals. These include the likes of the University of Hawaii, Stanford, USC, and UCLA. These teams all have very strong programs but none are an impossible task for the Devils. If the Devils use the wealth of experience that they have, as well as their talent, they can beat any of these teams.
The Sun Devils Women’s Waterpolo team will start their season off this year playing NCAA Champions USC and MPSF Champions UCLA in scrimmages in Los Angeles on January 15, 2011. They come up against UCLA and Cal Baptist on the 5th of March at their home pool Mona Plummer. This is located across the road from the Lightrail on Veterans Way, directly opposite Sun Devils Stadium. Get down and support your local team.
For a full schedule visit www.thesundevils.com