Men's Water Polo Faces No. 2 Stanford During Navy Open
Sept. 3, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - The George Washington men's water polo team will face one of its highest ranked opponents in program history in No. 2 Stanford, last season's NCAA runner-up, as part of its four-game schedule at the season-opening Navy Open in Annapolis, MD, this weekend.
2009 NAVY OPEN SCHEDULE (ANNAPOLIS, MD)
GW kicks off its season Saturday against Concordia (CA) and CWPA West member Mercyhurst before taking on the Cardinal and CWPA North member Queens (NY) Sunday. Stanford, ranked No. 2 in the CWPA Preseason Varsity Top 20, finished 25-6 overall and dropped a 7-5 decision to undefeated USC in the 2008 NCAA national championship.
The Colonials have defeated the Eagles, Lakers and Knights in each of their last meetings, but have never faced the Cardinal. GW topped Concordia (CA), 12-7, in last year's Navy Open, bested Mercyhurst, 9-8, in the fifth-place game of the 2008 CWPA Southern Championship and knocked off Queens (NY), 11-6, at the Princeton Invitational in 2007.
GW, which finished 11-20 overall in 2008, returns seven letterwinners to this year's roster, including leading returning scorers John-Claude Wright and Cray Rogers and sophomore goalkeeper Alex Sotolongo.
2009 GW MEN'S WATER POLO SEASON PREVIEW
The 2009 season will be a rebuilding year for 11th-year head coach Scott Reed and the George Washington men's water polo team, only in a positive way. The Colonials are slated to host their first match at newly renovated and renamed Charles E. Smith Center Natatorium in early October and Reed is hopeful his team, which will consist of twice as many underclassmen (10) as upper (5), will have gained enough experience to compete for CWPA Southern Division and Eastern titles.
Seniors John-Claude Wright and Nick Archambault inherit the bulk of the attacking duties following the graduation of David Zenk, one of the most prolific point-producers in program history. Wright finished second on the team in 2008 in goals (43), points (64) and swim-offs won (27) and will be the Colonials' marquee driver this fall. Archambault, who set career-highs with 21 goals and 38 points last season, and sophomore Cray Rogers, the team's top returning playmaker with 23 assists and 54 points as a rookie, will look to ease the pressure on Wright. Senior Rick Rogers also will be counted on to increase his contributions following an eight-goal, 11-assist campaign last season.
Reed welcomes a quartet of freshmen into the attack, led by West Coast recruit John-Paul Bezerra, who totaled 112 goals and 93 assists the past two seasons at California's St. John Bosco High. Rookies German Olano, Nolan Lozinski and Ross Kirkbaumer also will see action on the perimeter.
Senior Marshall Freedman and junior Peter Thomas return to center to replace Nick Eddy, last year's leading goal scorer and a two-time CWPA All-South selection. Freedman finished second on the team last season with a career-high 28 ejections drawn and added 15 points on seven goals and eight assists. Thomas appeared in 22 games and will likely see increased playing time at two-meter set, while freshman Guy Helman, a member of the Olympic Development Program's Northeast Zone team, will step in at two-meter defense.
Sophomore goalkeeper Alex Sotolongo had a solid debut season in 2008, finishing with 228 saves, 51 steals and a CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Week award. Sotolongo will be the incumbent entering the season, but freshmen Sean Joyce and Cameron Illes will vie for time in net. Joyce led the St. Louis metro area with 347 saves as a senior at Ladue High, while Illes was a 2009 NISCA Second Team All-American and four-time All-State selection at North Allegheny High in Pittsburgh.
GW will take to the road for nearly 20 matches to open the season while awaiting completion of Smith Center Natatorium renovations, participating in the Navy Open, Princeton Invitational, the expanded ECAC Championship and Claremont Convergence in California before hosting Bucknell in its home and CWPA Southern Division opener Oct. 8. Outside of a difficult conference schedule featuring defending Eastern champion Navy, Princeton, Johns Hopkins and Bucknell, the Colonials also have non-conference dates set with Top 20 program's UC San Diego, Santa Clara and Air Force.