Men's Water Polo Ready to Begin 2006 Season
Aug. 31, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC - The George Washington men's water polo team begins its 2006 season this weekend at the 21-team Navy Labor Day Open in Annapolis, MD. The Colonials, ranked 10th in the preseason Collegiate Water Polo Association Division I-II poll, will face a formidable quartet of opponents during the two-day event.
GW opens with Gannon at McDonough Hall at 8:40 am Saturday morning, then moves to LeJeune Pool to battle MIT at 2:30 pm Saturday afternoon. The Golden Knights are ranked ninth in the preseason CWPA Division I-II poll, one spot better than the Colonials, while the Engineers are eighth in the preseason Division III national poll.
On Sunday, GW will tangle with preseason No. 18 Santa Clara at LeJeune Pool at 9:10 am. The Broncos finished sixth in the ultra-competitive Western Water Polo Association with a 16-16 mark last season. The Colonials conclude play in the Open against Iona at 12:40 pm at McDonough Hall. The Gaels went 5-22 in 2005, but are ranked eighth in the preseason CWPA Top 10 poll.
Navy Labor Day Open Schedule
Sunday, September 3, 2006
After posting the most victories in a single season during his seven-year tenure last fall, GW men's water polo head coach Scott Reed is optimistic his 2006 team can improve upon last year's success and compete for a CWPA Eastern Championship. "The key to this season will be our ability to play team water polo," said Reed, now in his eighth year at GW. "We have a great balance to the team, a mix of veterans and young players who will feed off each other's strengths." The Colonials posted a 12-16 record in 2005, marking the most wins for the program since 1998, despite losing six contests by two goals or less, a trait Reed believes his 11 returnees have shed. "We now know what it's like to play in close games and I expect our upperclassmen to be ready come crunch-time."
The upperclassman Reed will rely on most heavily is senior and 2005 CWPA second team All-Southern Division pick John Hornberger. The lone senior on the 2006 team led GW with 42 goals and 61 ejections drawn last fall and added 20 assists. "John is our leader both offensively and defensively," added Reed.
Junior Chris Whittam will be the anchor of the defense and the main option in the cage this year after splitting time with the departed Tom Mills the past two seasons. Whittam led the Colonials in saves for the second straight year in 2005, totaling 134 stops in 66 quarters played. He also helped the offensive cause on occasion, handing out 11 assists. Newcomer Justin Licht, a former GW swimmer, joined the team last spring and will back-up Whittam in goal.
Unfortunately, Reed will be without the services of junior utility-man Nick Eddy, who will red-shirt the 2006 season. Eddy played in every game and was the third leading goal scorer for the Colonials in 2005. Reed will look to fellow junior John Jennings to shoulder the heavier load created by the loss of Eddy. Jennings played in all 28 games and finished with solid numbers of 27 goals, 42 steals and 30 ejections drawn.
David Zenk returns after an outstanding rookie season in which he led GW in points (75) and assists (34) and finished second on the team in goals (41) while coming off the bench. Zenk also led the Colonials in steals (76) and sprints won (48) and was second on the team with 12 man-up goals. His speed and scoring ability will make him the go-to player in GW's attack this fall. Teaming with Zenk will be classmate Gustavo Canto, who scored 15 goals and dished out 15 assists as a freshman in 2005. Canto spent the off-season playing for his native Puerto Rico in the Junior Pan-Am Games and should be ready to contribute immediately.
Reed ushers in another strong recruiting class led by Hawaiian Alexander Price and Jamaican international John-Claude Wright. Price is able to create mismatches on offense and is expected to compete for time at two-meter set with Jennings. Wright brings added scoring punch following his summer with Jamaica's Junior Pan-Am Games team. Rookies Nick Archambault and Marshall Freedman, a high school All-American, have solid high school experience and give Reed more options at driver.
The 2006 schedule includes appearances in the Navy Open, the Princeton Invitational and a trip to California for the Claremont Convergence. Once again, the Colonials have to contend with a difficult CWPA Eastern Region slate, which features three programs that finished the 2005 season ranked in the Top 20 (Navy, Princeton, Bucknell) and the top-ranked team in Division III, Johns Hopkins. GW will then look for a top-four finish at the CWPA Southern Championships in Lewisburg, PA, in late October to advance to the Eastern Championships in Princeton, NJ, the following week.