Men's Water Polo Falls in NCAA Thriller

Nov. 25, 2017

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Making its NCAA Tournament debut, George Washington men's water polo came up short Saturday afternoon against Harvard in a 15-13 overtime slugfest at Blodgett Pool.

The 17th-ranked Colonials held a late two-goal lead in the NCAA opening round matchup before the No. 12 Crimson netted the final two goals of regulation and the only two in overtime.

GW earned its first berth in the national tournament by claiming the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference title last weekend. The Colonials were one of eight teams left competing for a national title before their remarkable run ended with a down-to-the-wire defeat Saturday.

"You can't be anything but pleased with what the guys gave us today," said Head Coach Barry King, who guided the history-making effort in his first season in charge. "They completely emptied their tanks and played with a pride that I don't know has been seen here before."

GW (17-12) went back and forth with the Northeast Water Polo Conference champions from start to finish with neither side ever leading by more than three goals.

The Colonials used a run of four straight goals to grab the lead in the final quarter, extending their advantage to 13-11 on Duke Becker's score with 5:24 left. They held the Crimson scoreless for nearly 10 minutes of game time during one second-half stretch.

Harvard (24-7) closed strong, tying it at 13 on a goal by Jackson Enright with 43 seconds left in regulation. The Crimson scored both of their goals in the first three-minute overtime period and held on through the second one to advance. It will now face Southern California in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Atakan Destici and Andras Levai shined for GW on the NCAA stage. Destici tallied four goals and two assists, while Levai supplied three goals and four helpers.

Senior captain Pierce Deamer also scored three times in his final game as a Colonial. Becker, Andrew Mavis and Jordan Blosser found the net Saturday, too.

Austin Pyrch entered in net in the second quarter with GW facing a three-goal deficit and helped the Colonials climb back. The junior goalkeeper finished with seven saves.

The loss capped a memorable season for GW, which has made quite the turnaround since going winless in conference play just two seasons ago. The Colonials posted their most wins since 1998 on the way to their NCAA debut.

"I know the sting right now is going to linger on the bus ride home, but they'll step away from this knowing they did everything they possibly could," King said. "This will serve as a great launching pad for this program moving forward."

WATCH THIS: King and Pierce Deamer discuss Saturday's NCAA loss to Harvard.

Harvard 15, GW 13 (OT)

GW Goals: Destici 4, Levai 3, Deamer 3, Mavis 1, Becker 1, Blosser 1.
GW Assists: Levai 4, Destici 2, Else 1, Deamer 1.
GW Steals: Destici 3, Else 3, Becker 2, Kerwin 1, Deamer 1, Blosser 1.
GW Field Blocks: Destici 3, Deamer 1.
GW Ejections Drawn: Destici 3, Mavis 2, Deamer 2, Else 1, Levai 1, Blosser 1.
GW Saves: Pyrch 7.



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