GW Women's Water Polo Opens Season on Saturday
Colonials Face Villanova After Exhibition Against CAMO
Jan. 31, 2014
WASHINGTON - The George Washington women's water polo team opens its 2014 slate on Saturday at the Villanova Mini Invite. The Colonials will first take on Club CAMO in an exhibition at 11:30 a.m. before facing the host Wildcats at 4:30 p.m.
GW is 30-6 all-time against Villanova with nine straight wins, including four last season. The Wildcats finished last season with an 8-29 record.
The Colonials won 16 games in 2013, its most victories since the 2004 campaign, and 15th-year head coach Scott Reed is looking to build on that success in the program's 15th season.
Bentley enters the season as GW's all-time leading scorer with 272 points, as well as the career record-holder in assists with 141, and with 131 career goals, she is within striking distance of Morgan Hooker's program mark of 170. A very consistent player throughout her first three seasons in the Buff and Blue, Bentley broke her own single-season records for both points (111) and assists (61) in 2013 en route to Collegiate Water Polo Association All-Southern Division first team honors.
"The key to Rachael's success is consistency," said Coach Reed. "She's very consistent in what she does on both offense and defense. There are very few people out there who are capable of rattling her cage. If she can keep going in the direction she's been going, she's going to finish out even stronger than she did last year."
An All-South second team honoree, Brolley experienced a breakout junior campaign in which she scored a career-high 50 goals and 79 points and led the Colonials in both steals (41) and ejections drawn (43). Brolley is an extremely efficient shooter, and she enters the season as GW's all-time leader in shooting percentage at .526.
"Last year Megan Brolley found her identity," Coach Reed said. "Now that she knows exactly what her responsibilities are, she's been working on improving those things she did last year and I'm looking for her to continue to be a very solid defender that can create opportunities on the fastbreak. That's her specialty."
Cox scored a team-high 56 goals and was second on the team with 35 ejections drawn in 28 games from the center position before missing the final five contests with an injury.
"Hannah probably has the biggest challenge out of everybody because she can't take teams by surprise anymore," said Coach Reed. "She's got to be prepared with some new moves that will throw teams off guard."
Senior Katherine Berry will reprise her role as the Colonials' primary center defender. She enters the season as GW's career and single-season record-holder in field blocks, but Coach Reed looks for her to continue to contribute on offense, as well. Berry scored 31 goals last season and enters 2014 just one shy of 100 for her career.
"We need KB to do the things she did last year," he said. "She's been working on her offense, and I know she can step that up without sacrificing her job on the defensive side of things."
Also back for her senior season is Allison Littlejohn, who will serve as "our ultimate utility player," Coach Reed said. Last season Littlejohn scored 23 goals and ranked second on the team with 40 steals.
"Alli's role has changed every single year, and this year is no different," the coach said. "She's going to be a center defender, she's going to be a center and she's going to be an outside attacker. We're looking for her to be able to do all the things we ask her on a daily basis."
Coach Reed looks for freshman Maddy Johnson to step right into the Colonials' offense in her inaugural campaign, and he's also looking for increased contributions from senior Erin Dickson and sophomore Ruti Zwick.
"Erin Dickson is going to be a very important role player this year," he said. "She's got speed, she's got a good shot and we're going to need her to step up in those departments. Ruti has a lot of energy out there; she's a good counterattack player and we'll look for her to get up and down the pool and play some pretty solid minutes this year."
The coach also expects a breakout sophomore season from Caroline Sandri, a strong, aggressive player who scored 16 goals and drew 28 ejections in her rookie campaign backing up Cox at the center position.
Sophomore Addy Colona came to GW as a goalkeeper last season and transitioned into a field player. After a year of learning in which she saw limited playing time, Coach Reed said she is ready to be a contributor for the Colonials. In addition, freshman Brennan Marczewski has size and speed, while her classmate, Allyson Bakos, has the distinction of being the team's only lefty.
Junior Chandler Vilander is the Colonials' incumbent goalie, starting nearly every game in her first two seasons, but sophomore Caterina Sesana will push her for the starting position. Vilander recorded a career-high 201 saves last season while Sesana learned the ropes of the college game.
"We're looking for Chandler to build on last year with a lot more confidence," Coach Reed said. "But we're also looking for Cati, now that she has a year under her belt, to really push and challenge Chandler for that starting role. They have two different styles, so they're going to push each other quite a bit."
Junior Jessie Sinkula saw action in a pair of games last season and will provide depth in the cage.
Coach Reed put together a tough schedule to challenge and prepare his team for both the Southern Division and CWPA Championships, for which teams must qualify this season under a new format. The Colonials finished fourth at Southerns and eighth at the CWPA Championship last season.
"There are going to be no easy games whatsoever," he said. "There's no room to relax in the schedule. It's one of the most difficult schedules we've had in awhile. We're going to have to be on our toes and ready to play each game."