Men's Water Polo Eying Solid Start to 2007
Aug. 30, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC - The George Washington men's water polo team begins the 2007 season with four games at the Navy Labor Day Open in Annapolis, MD, this Saturday and Sunday. The Colonials will look to repeat their success from last season's Navy Open, where they posted four victories to jump to the best start in program history.
GW opens with a pair of Collegiate Water Polo Association foes on Saturday, starting with Fordham at Lejeune Hall at 1:50 pm. The Rams were 11-11-1 in 2006, finishing in fifth place in the CWPA Northern Division. The Colonials end Saturday against Penn State Behrend at MacDonough Hall at 8:50 pm. The Lions posted a 2-15 mark and finished fourth in the CWPA Southern Division, Western Region last fall. GW defeated both Fordham (8-4) and Penn State Behrend (16-9) at neutral sites in 2006.
The Colonials toughest test of the Navy Open comes early Sunday against 13th-ranked Pacific at Lejeune Hall at 10:20 am. The Tigers defeated GW 12-7 at the Princeton Invitational last September and went on to finish the year 16-17 overall and ranked seventh in the final National Collegiate Water Polo Coaches Top 20 poll. GW concludes play at the Navy Open with an exhibition against Northern Virginia at Lejeune Hall at 4:10 pm.
Navy Labor Day Open Schedule
Sunday, September 2, 2007
2007 Men's Water Polo Season Outlook
The George Washington men's water polo team continues to take strides in the right direction as witnessed by last year's 14-12 finish, which marked the program's first winning campaign in eight seasons and the third consecutive year the program increased its win total.
However, with six starters and 13 letterwinners returning for 2007, ninth-year head coach Scott Reed is confident the Colonials can make a bigger leap to contend for a CWPA Eastern Championship title and a berth in the NCAA Championships. "Last season was a big step," said Reed. "We finished strong, narrowly missing Easterns, and are looking to build upon the experience and knowledge our returnees gained last fall. Offensively, this is the most talented team I've ever had, but the test will be in how the players complement each other's abilities."
Despite losing top goal-scorer John Hornberger to graduation, Reed believes his lineup still boasts four potential 40-goal scorers in juniors David Zenk, Gustavo Canto and Nick Eddy and sophomore John-Claude Wright.
Zenk is the Colonials top returning scorer with 94 points on 47 goals and 47 assists in 2006. The lanky left-hander is GW's set-up man in five-meter and man-up possessions and go-to scorer in transition. Typically the fastest swimmer in the pool, Zenk set a school-record with 72 sprints won last fall and is on pace to break the career record in 2007. Reed's "best all-around player" also led the Colonials with 63 steals in 2006 and will enter the program's Top 5 in the category this season.
Canto (59 points) and Wright (53) both posted 50-plus point efforts in 2006 and provide additional firepower at the driver position. Wright spent the offseason competing with his native Jamaica at the FINA Junior World Championships in California and should be ready to step up his contributions immediately.
Eddy returns following a red-shirt season to rehab a shoulder injury. A 38-goal scorer as a freshman in 2005, Eddy is an aggressive player who has a knack for putting the ball in the net. Senior John Jennings replaces Hornberger as the focal point of the offense at two-meter set. Jennings chipped in 22 goals and 12 assists off the bench last season.
Also adding the offensive mix are and sophomores Nick Archambault and Marshall Freedman and junior Andrew Sweeney. Archambault led the group with 17 goals and eight assists as a rookie last fall. Sophomore Rick Rogers, a third-team All-America at Newberg High in Oregon, and newcomers Brett Gall, a 168-point scorer as a senior at John Burroughs High in St. Louis, and Nick Yeager round out Reed's depth at driver. Rookie Peter Thomas will back-up Eddy at utility.
The starting defense remains intact with senior goalkeeper Chris Whittam and two-meter defense junior Sergei Shev back. Whittam excelled as the team's primary net-minder last season, finishing 11th in the nation with 226 saves to earn second team All-CWPA Southern Division honors. Senior Justin Licht, who made 18 saves in his first season of collegiate competition in 2006, will play behind Whittam.
Shev, who contributed 18 points and 26 steals as a sophomore in 2006, will once again be Reed's primary stopper. Classmate Bill Richardson has worked hard on his game the past two seasons and will share time, along with junior Connor Lynagh, at two-meter defense.
GW will open the season at Navy's Labor Day Open for the seventh straight year, followed by a second consecutive appearance at the Princeton Invitational. By virtue of last year's Top 8 CWPA finish, the Colonials also will compete at the ECAC Championships in Lewisburg, PA, on Sept. 29 and 30, for the first time since 2004. GW faces a stern test in early October at Pacific's Invitational in Stockton, CA. The eight-game CWPA Southern Division schedule features home-and-away series with end-of-year Top 20 programs Navy, Princeton and Bucknell and Division III power Johns Hopkins. Navy will play host to the CWPA Southern Championship Nov. 3 and 4, with the Top 4 finishers advancing to the Eastern Championship at MIT in Cambridge, MA, Nov. 16-18.