Nationally Ranked Men's Water Polo Returns to Pool Saturday
No. 18 Colonials Open 2008 Against No. 12 St. Francis (NY)
Sept. 4, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC - The 18th-ranked George Washington men's water polo team will face 12th-ranked St. Francis (NY) Saturday in its marquee match-up of this weekend's season-opening Navy Open. The Colonials also will face Concordia (CA) and fellow CWPA rivals Mercyhurst and MIT at the event.
2008 Navy Open Schedule
Saturday, September 6, 2008
#18 GW vs. #12 St. Francis (NY) - 11:30 am, Scott Natatorium
#18 GW vs. Concordia (CA) - 5:45 pm, Lejeune Hall
Sunday, September 7, 2008
#18 GW vs. Mercyhurst - 11:00 am, Scott Natatorium
#18 GW vs. MIT - 2:30 pm, Scott Natatorium
GW last faced St. Francis (NY) during the 2005 season, falling to the Terriers, 12-9, in the final game of the Navy Open. No. 12 St. Francis (NY) was 23-6 and finished runner-up ahead of third-place GW at the CWPA Eastern Championship last fall. The Colonials have never faced Concordia (CA), which was 20-11 overall and lost to California Baptist in the inaugural NAIA/CWPA National Invitational in 2007.
GW defeated both Mercyhurst and MIT in the most recent meetings with the schools' in 2006. The Colonials crushed the Engineers, 15-3, on the first day of the Navy Open in September and topped the Lakers, 18-8, en route to a fifth-place finish at the CWPA Southern Championship in October.
2008 SEASON PREVIEW
George Washington men's water polo head coach Scott Reed predicted his team was going to take the next step during the 2007 season. Reed's preseason premonition of a CWPA Eastern title and NCAA Tournament berth almost came to reality as the Colonials upset nationally ranked teams Bucknell and Brown to make the deepest postseason run in the program's 24-year history. GW placed third at the Eastern Championships, finishing two victories shy of the Final Four, and ended the year ranked 17th in the nation, the program's first national ranking in nearly a decade.
The team's goals of an Eastern crown and NCAA bid remain the same heading into 2008, but the expectations are justifiably higher coming off the best season in school history. "We're looking to carry over last season's postseason success into this fall and I believe this team is hungry to repeat," said Reed, the 2007 CWPA Southern Division Coach of the Year.
The Colonials return four starters - seniors David Zenk, Nick Eddy and Sergei Shev and junior John-Claude Wright. However, Reed feels the greatest impact in 2008 will be the team's enhanced depth with 12 returning letterwinners and five newcomers.
The CWPA's best all-around player, Zenk became the first GW men's water polo player to be named an All-American after earning honorable mention honors as a junior last fall. Zenk paced the Colonials with 94 points and 43 assists and set school records with 100 swim-offs won, 89 steals and 17 field blocks in 2007. The CWPA All-South and All-Eastern Championship first team selection is slated to set new program marks in assists and steals during his final season.
Eddy made a triumphant return to the pool last fall after redshirting the 2006 season. Eddy finished second on the team with 74 points and third with 49 goals to earn CWPA All-South second team honors. Eddy, who creates match-up problems due to his aggressive play, also led the Colonials with 41 ejections drawn.
Four-year starter Sergei Shev returns to anchor the Colonials' two-meter defense slot. Shev has played in all 84 games during his first three seasons and will not only be counted on to lead a defense in front of two freshman goalkeepers, but also take advantage of his scoring chances in attack. Backing up Shev at two-meter defense is senior Bill Richardson and sophomore Peter Thomas.
One of the more underrated players on the East Coast, Wright paced GW's offense with 55 goals in 2007. The Jamaican international also chipped in 15 assists and was second on the team with 57 steals and is poised to gain more recognition in 2008.
Despite the return of the four starters, Reed believes the key determinant of the Colonials' success in 2008 is senior Connor Lynagh. Lynagh, an aggressive driver, played in all 30 games last fall and, according to Reed, must have "a breakout season in order for the team to reach its goals."
Junior Marshall Freedman will work out of the two-meter set position more with the graduation of John Jennings, while classmate Nick Archambault, a double-digit scorer in each of his first two seasons, will see increased time.
Also returning to the attack is junior Rick Rogers and sophomores Nick Yeager and Brett Gall. Rogers is expected to contribute more after taking a year away from the game prior to last season. Yeager and Gall, the team's most accurate and hardest shooters, respectively, combined for 17 goals as rookies in 2007.
Another key factor to GW's success this season is the impact of the team's five-player recruiting class. Alex Sotolongo and Craig Merlin, who battled each other at rival high schools in Florida, will fight for starting goalkeeping duties following the departure of the program's career saves leader, Chris Whittam. Dan Alessandri, John Rebstock and high school All-American Cray Rogers, Rick's younger brother, will compete for time at driver.
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