GW Women's Water Polo Set for CWPA Eastern Championship
Seeded Ninth, Colonials to Face No. 8 Bucknell in First Round
April 24, 2012
WASHINGTON - The George Washington women's water polo team heads to Providence, R.I., this weekend for the three-day CWPA Eastern Championship at Brown University. Seeded ninth, the Colonials will face No. 8 Bucknell in the first round on Friday, April 27, at 9 a.m.
GW (10-14, 1-4 Southern) received the ninth slot in the 13-team tournament after placing fifth at the CWPA Southern Division Championship April 14-15.
The winner of the GW/Bucknell game moves on to face top-seeded and 10th-ranked Michigan on Friday at 3:40 p.m., while the loser will face the loser of the Hartwick/Notre Dame game on Saturday at 3:20 p.m. The Wolverines have won three of the last four Eastern Championships despite falling to Indiana in the 2011 title game.
Southern Division champion and 13th-ranked Princeton earned the No. 2 seed, followed by third-seed and 12th-ranked Indiana, fourth-seed and 14th-ranked Maryland and fifth-seed and 17th-ranked Hartwick. Host Brown was seeded sixth and Harvard was seeded seventh - both are receiving votes in the most recent national poll. No. 10 Mercyhurst, No. 11 Gannon, No. 12 Notre Dame College and No. 13 Salem International round out the field. The top three seeds all receive first-round byes.
SIU announced on Wednesday that it would withdraw from the championship due to injuries, but the tournament's format will remain the same. All contests in which the Tigers would have competed will be considered forfeits. Per NCAA rules, Salem will be charged with three losses as the contests will count towards their overall record, while the teams the Tigers were to play will receive a 5-0 victory. The forfeits mean that Games 2, 10 and 15 will not be contested. No games will be moved up to replace those contests.
The winner of the Eastern Championship advances to the 2012 NCAA Championship, held at San Diego's Aztec Aquaplex May 11-13.
GW placed eighth at the 2011 Eastern Championship in Bloomington, Ind., defeating Mercyhurst in the opening game before falling to Michigan, Princeton and Bucknell. The Colonials have never finished higher than seventh, which was accomplished in 2003.
Sophomore Rachael Bentley leads GW with a program-record 41 assists this season, while her 84 points are tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. Bentley and classmate Katherine Berry have each scored a team-high 43 goals, while Berry leads the Colonials with 39 steals on the year.
Bentley, Berry, senior Megan Walker (41) and sophomore Megan Brolley (37) have combined for more than 69 percent of the Colonials' scoring this season. The quartet gives GW four players with at least 30 goals for the first time since 2004. In addition, the Colonials' 237 goals on the season are the most since the 2004 squad tallied 247.
Walker, who ranks second all-time at GW with 201 ejections drawn, leads the Colonials in that category with 62 on the year, the fifth-most in program history.
Bucknell (14-21, 2-3 Southern) placed fourth at the Southern Division Championship. The Bison are led by Julianne Valdes' 100 points (55g, 45a), while Taylor Barnett has scored a team-high 63 goals. Both players have had success against the Colonials this season, as Barnett scored seven goals when the teams met on April 7 in College Park, Md., while Valdes totaled nine points in the Southern Division Championship matchup on April 14.
GW is 16-29 all-time against Bucknell, and the teams have met four times already this season, all Bucknell wins, including a 17-8 decision in the Southern Division Championship. Walker paced the Colonials' offense in that game with three goals.
General admission for the Eastern Championship is $25 for a tournament pass and $10 for a day pass. For fans unable to attend the East Coast's biggest water polo championship, the CWPA is once again offering video streaming of the tournament. Fans can access the broadcasts on championship weekend by clicking here and registering. The cost of viewership is $9.99 per game, or $25 for the weekend championship package that includes all games.