The GW men’s water polo team concluded its successful season Nov. 16 at the ECAC Championships. The team made it to the finals, defeating Villanova (15-9), Massachusetts (9-8 in overtime) and Bucknell (l6-7). After the victory against Bucknell in the semifinals, the Colonials faced UMass again in the championship round, where they lost 9-6.
“Basically all the teams were playing for pride, so in that sense, we showed rather well,” head coach Van Hoffman said. “The team took it pretty seriously and played hard all weekend.”
Overall, GW ended the year under the first-year head coach with a 23-10 record. Its Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) record was 5-2, which earned GW the third seed in the Southern Division Championships (Oct. 26-27). The team went on to attend the Eastern Championships (Nov. 9-10) for the first time in the school’s history, where it was seeded eighth.
However, Hoffman said he had higher expectations for his players.
“I am not satisfied with the overall season. The team had the potential to go to NCAAs and we didn’t achieve that goal. But I’m very happy with the overall performance of the team. We just didn’t reach our potential, and that concerns me because it is my responsibility to have them ready,” Hoffman said.
The starters for the 1997 season were Peter Clifford, Dan Batten,
Brent Stoll, Brandon Stout, Rush Taylor and Jeremy Yamamoto. The team will lose three of these starters when Batten, Clifford and Stoll graduate this May.
Clifford, Stoll and Taylor were recognized by the CWPA earlier this month. Stoll was named Southern Division first team All-Conference, and Taylor and Clifford were named to the second team. Stoll led the Colonials with 78 points this season. Taylor was third with 63, while Clifford tallied 28 points.
Hoffman called Stoll “one of the most talented players I’ve coached or played ball with. He understands the game extremely well, he can shoot the lights out of the ball and is an excellent defender. In short, he’s a total package.”
For 1998, Hoffman said he hopes to bring at least 12 freshmen or transfers to the team.
“I do have high expectations for next year. We have a good nucleus on the team, and adding quality players should leave us with the opportunity to match this year’s squad pretty well,” Hoffman said.
About a commendable first season at GW, he added, “The success of this year feels great, especially being a first-year coach. On the other hand, I merely worked with an existing team that had a lot of experience playing ball together. These athletes trained very hard, and the effort these guys had to make was extraordinary. Overall, I’m happy for them and happy for their success.”