Men's Water Polo Claims First MAWPC Title, NCAA Bid

GW is headed to the NCAA Tournament after claiming its first conference title Sunday.
Nov. 19, 2017

NCAA Bracket Announcement

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - For the first time in program history, George Washington men's water polo celebrated a conference championship Sunday.

The second-seeded Colonials earned the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference title with an 8-5 win over fourth-seeded Wagner in the championship final at Navy's Lejeune Hall. They advance to their first NCAA Tournament and a first-round matchup at Northeast Water Polo Conference champion Harvard next Saturday.

"It was great seeing so many years of hard work just come together at one particular moment," captain Pierce Deamer said. "It was great to have it with this team. I wouldn't have asked to do it with any other group of guys."

GW (17-11) surged ahead of Wagner (14-17) by scoring the first five goals before holding on with some impressive defense down the stretch.

The Colonials led 5-0 on Kerim Sismanoglu's goal with 21 seconds left in the opening quarter and never let the Seahawks get closer than two goals the rest of the way. The clubs went back-and-forth trading defensive stands in a tense final quarter before Andras Levai's goal with 37 seconds left pushed the lead back to three and secured the victory.

Atakan Destici scored all three of his goals in the opening quarter, while Sismanoglu, Deamer, Andrew Mavis, Brett Else, and Andras Levai each found the net once.

In net, Vaios Vlahotasios set the tone with 10 first-half saves. Austin Pyrch entered after halftime and piled up 10 stops of his own.

Mavis was named Tournament Most Valuable Player after racking up 10 goals in three victories on the weekend, while Levai picked up Rookie of the Tournament honors on the strength of 11 goals and five assists. Destici, Pyrch and Vlahotasios earned spots on the all-tournament second team.

"I'm really, really happy for them," said Head Coach Barry King, who guided GW to a title in his first season at the helm. "Like I told them at the beginning of the year, I just really kind of felt like they were looking for somebody to give them permission to be as good as they could possibly be. They bought in and as soon as they were given that permission, we just continued to get better."

GW had experience on this stage after advancing to the final for the first time last fall. The Colonials looked plenty comfortable in earning three narrow wins in as many days.

The Colonials dropped Gannon, 10-7, on Friday and came back to beat Fordham, 16-15, in an overtime thriller Saturday to earn their spot in the final. On Sunday, they got the start they wanted with a sterling opening period and a long-awaited finish with everybody jumping in the pool to celebrate at the final whistle.

UP NEXT: GW advances to an NCAA play-in game, where it's paired up against Harvard, which edged Princeton, 12-11, Sunday in overtime to claim the Northeast Water Polo Conference's automatic bid. It's a 1 p.m. start at Blodgett Pool in Cambridge, Mass.

The winner of that one next Saturday moves on to face Southern California on Nov. 30. The full eight-team bracket, released late Sunday night, is available here.

WATCH THIS: King, Deamer, Mavis, Pyrch and Levai discuss Sunday's MAWPC final victory.

GW 8, Wagner 5

GW Goals: Destici 3, Mavis 1, Else 1, Sismanoglu 1, Deamer 1, Levai 1.
GW Assists: Levai 2, Destici 1, Kerwin 1.
GW Steals: Else 2, Kerwin 1, Slaughter 1, Deamer 1.
GW Field Blocks: Destici 3, Kerwin 2, Mavis 1, Else 1, Levai 1, Deamer 1.
GW Ejections Drawn: Mavis 1, Else 1, Kerwin 1, Levai 1, Deamer 1.
GW Saves: Vlahotasios 10, Pyrch 10.



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