GW Men's Water Polo Seeks Next Level in 2011
Sept. 2, 2011
WASHINGTON - The George Washington men's water polo team will play a top 20 team and two Collegiate Water Polo Association crossover rivals at this weekend's Navy Open in Annapolis, Md., to kick off the 2011 season. Action begins Saturday with the Colonials taking on 20th-ranked Concordia (Calif.), followed by CWPA West rival Penn State Behrend. On Sunday, GW faces Notre Dame (Ohio) for the first time and North foe Fordham.
2011 NAVY OPEN SCHEDULE (Annapolis, Md.)
Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011
GW last played Concordia in the 2009 Navy Open, losing 18-6, but beat the Eagles 12-7 in their 2008 season-opening meeting. The Colonials scored nine straight goals to cruise to a 17-7 victory over Penn State Behrend in last year's Navy Open, but lost to Fordham 11-5 in their opening contest of 2010, then lost again to the Rams, 8-6, in the Princeton Invitational. Notre Dame is fielding a varsity team for the first time this season.
2011 MEN'S WATER POLO SEASON OUTLOOK
With nine letterwinners returning and better than 90 percent of its scoring back from last fall, the George Washington men's water polo team is primed to turn the corner in 2011.
Despite finishing 9-20 in 2010, just three years after the best season in school history and a national ranking, head coach Scott Reed said his team is in a good position. With no seniors, the young team is putting together "a very strong foundation for the future," the coach said.
Coach Reed said the team is ready to take its play to the next level - the Eastern Championships and an opportunity to advance to the NCAA championships. "We lost a lot of close games last season because of silly mistakes and we hope to eliminate that," said Coach Reed, who is entering his 13th season as head coach of the men's and women's water polo teams. "If so, we can be above .500."
But the road to the championships will prove difficult as, unfortunately, the Colonials have lost key attacker Luke Carrino for the season due to a broken leg. Coach Reed called the sophomore his best all-around player, citing his overall strong play and good field vision.
So once again the Colonials will be looking to their youth to deliver, with the freshmen in particular having to step up their game. Just three months ago, Coach Reed declared the seven incoming players "one of the most talented classes we've ever had here at GW," also saying they "really know how to play some high-level water polo."
Reed singled out Turkish player Ridvan Pehlivan, who played on Turkey's Junior National Team, and Rafi Castillo of Florida, who will miss the season opener to play for Puerto Rico in the FINA Junior World Championships in Greece, but is gaining good experience.
For leadership, the team can look to starting goalkeeper Cameron Illes, who was named the team's Most Valuable Player as a sophomore last season. Illes posted the third-highest single-season saves total in GW history with 267 in 2010, highlighted by a single-game record-tying 19 saves against 19th-ranked Navy at Charles E. Smith Center last October.
"Cameron had an absolutely fabulous first two years and he will be even better this year," said Coach Reed.
"They scored a lot of goals as freshmen and a year of experience will let them keep up their offensive production," said Coach Reed. Tyner's 92 points paced the Colonials and helped him earn Second Team All-South honors from the CWPA last fall, while Little came on late to lead the team with 70 goals.
GW will also derive experience from juniors Guy Helman and John Paul Bezerra, both of whom have played in all 60 games since joining the team in 2009, and sophomore Paul Deasey, who paced the Colonials with 36 assists in his inaugural season.
Along with Pehlivan and Castillo, freshmen Nick Scherma, Lance Leung, Benjamin Krigel, Brian Mojica and Adam Wrobel complete the recruiting class and will be looked upon for production immediately. Mojica totaled 197 goals and Krigel netted 147 during their respective scholastic careers in southern California. Late addition Matthew Williams, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, will also vie for playing time.
At the season-opening Navy Open, Coach Reed said he is looking for his players to be in good shape and to show that they are capable of working well together. A tougher test for the Colonials comes at the Princeton Invitational Sept. 10-11, when their opponents include preseason 11th-ranked St. Francis College (N.Y.) and Brown, another well-regarded team.
GW will then navigate its way through the CWPA Southern Division's East Region. With the likes of preseason nationally ranked foes Navy, Princeton and Bucknell, it is the most difficult conference on the East Coast with seven of the past 11 Eastern Championship victors.
"We have a good group of guys who work hard and are looking to take us to the next step," said Coach Reed.