GW Men's Water Polo Opens 2012 Season at Navy Open This Weekend
Aug. 31, 2012
WASHINGTON - The George Washington men's water polo team will play four games in two days at the annual Navy Open this weekend to kick off its 2012 slate. The Colonials will face Penn State Behrend and Iona on Saturday before taking on Notre Dame (Ohio) and Gannon on Sunday.
2012 NAVY OPEN SCHEDULE
Sunday, Sept. 2
The Colonials went 3-1 at the 2011 Navy Open, including dominating wins over two of their opponents at the 2012 tournament, Penn State Behrend (18-1) and Notre Dame (18-7). GW's last matchup with Iona resulted in a 10-4 loss in Princeton last October, while the Colonials routed Gannon, 15-3, at the 2011 CWPA Southern Division Championship.
2012 MEN'S WATER POLO SEASON OUTLOOK
The 2011 George Washington men's water polo team was comprised of eight freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors - and no seniors. The relatively young squad battled some injuries and posted a 13-17 overall record with a fifth-place finish at the Southern Division Championship.
"Unfortunately we had a pretty disappointing finish last year due to some illnesses and injuries," said 14th-year head coach Scott Reed. "This year's overall goal is to put ourselves in a position where we are playing for our conference championship."
Led by Nate Little, the team's leading scorer, and Daniel Tyner, a CWPA Southern Division First Team selection, GW scored a school-record 333 goals last season, and the Colonials return 90 percent of that offense in 2012.
"Offense definitely wasn't a big concern for us last year, and I don't think it will be a big concern for us this year," said Coach Reed.
Little (83) and Tyner (48) combined for nearly 40 percent of GW's goals a year ago, but Coach Reed expects a more balanced offense this season to take some of the load off the junior duo.
"I don't think we're going to need Nate to score as many goals as he did last year," he said. "We're looking to distribute those goals a little better so that we're not as one-dimensional as we have been in the past. I'd like to see Dan do the same thing that he's done the past two years; he's going to get his scoring opportunities, but he has the ability to see the field and dish the ball out to other players too."
Reed will look for a pair of sophomores - Brian Mojica and Ridvan Pehlivan - to step in and become go-to scorers. Both players put up big numbers as rookies, as Mojica scored 36 goals and led the team with 48 assists and 64 steals, while Pehlivan's 40 goals ranked third on the squad behind only Little and Tyner.
"Brian Mojica has a year of experience under his belt now, so we're looking for him to score from his position on the right side of the field," said Coach Reed. "Ridvan will be getting more scoring opportunities because of what Nate and Dan did last year on the perimeter."
Coach Reed believes freshman Alec Sedlachek will be a good complement to Pehlivan in the center, but with Pehlivan missing the first eight games of the season while competing for Turkey at the U-19 European Championships, the rookie will have to step up right away.
Junior Paul Deasey has posted 69 assists in his first two years as a Colonial, and Coach Reed expects him to continue to set up his teammates. Senior John Paul Bezerra, a southpaw, is an aggressive player with an accurate shot who has considerable experience as he has played in nearly every game in his first three years.
Freshman Jonah Dowd is an extremely fast swimmer who excels on the counterattack, and Coach Reed will look for him to ignite GW's fast-break opportunities while also keeping the defense at bay with his outside shooting. In addition, Coach Reed expects sophomore Rafi Castillo, whom he calls "very smart," to help out on the counterattack, as well.
Milos Purkovic is a grad student from Serbia who transferred to GW from a nationally ranked Pepperdine program this season, and the Colonials will utilize not only his experience but his veteran leadership, as well.
"Milos has a lot of experience - he's a veteran player both internationally and in one of the top collegiate programs in the country," said Coach Reed. "We're looking for him to guide the young players and help out in just about every aspect of the game."
In addition, sophomore Benjamin Krigel will add depth on the attack.
Senior goalkeeper Cameron Illes is a three-year starter who will again lead Colonials' defensive efforts. Illes, a CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District First Team honoree, ranks third all-time at GW with 785 career saves and will easily become the school record-holder if he keeps up with his average of 260 per season.
"Every year, Cameron has learned from his weaknesses from the year before, and he has come in ready to go this year," said Coach Reed. "He's in better shape, he's clearly thought about the things that he had trouble with last year and has made those corrections already, so we're looking for him to be the anchor to our defense. Our team will feed off of what he does in the cage."
Illes will be backed up by freshman Connor Dillon, who Coach Reed expects to "push Cameron to the absolute limit while getting ready to take over the leadership role once Cameron graduates."
Coach Reed will also look for senior Guy Helman and junior Adam Streeter to step up on defense this year, while Serbian freshman Bogdan Petkovic is a center defender with a wealth of international experience.
"Bogdan has played against some of the top centers in this country," said Coach Reed. "We brought Bogdan in because of his defense, and he's already shown us in practice what he's capable of doing. We're looking for him to be the shut-down guy on all the top centers that we face this year."
Sophomore Adam Wrobel missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but Coach Reed hopes the Southern California native will contribute on the defensive end, while classmate Matthew Williams is strong and fast and could also contribute.
After kicking off the season at the Navy Open, the Colonials will face tough tests on the second and third weekends of the season at the Princeton Invite and the CWPA North/South Tournament. GW will take on UCLA, the preseason No. 2 ranked team in the country and 2011 national runner-up, at the Princeton Invite, while the North/South Tournament will allow the Colonials to see how they match up with the other teams in the CWPA.
"The Princeton Invite is turning out to be one of the premier tournaments in the country this year," said Coach Reed. "From start to finish, this is probably one of the most challenging schedules we've had in a long time."