The GW men’s water polo team opened its season this weekend by placing ninth out of 16 teams at the U.S. Naval Academy Tournament.
The Colonials started the weekend slowly with an overtime loss to the Massachusetts junior varsity squad but continued to improve in their next three games. They concluded the weekend with three straight wins over Boston College, the University of Richmond and the Navy junior varsity team.
GW started the season Friday night against the UMass JV team. First-game jitters were evident, as several costly errors proved to be the difference in the game. The Colonials led 8-4 going into the final quarter, but were outscored 5-1 in the fourth to send the game into overtime. UMass outscored GW 3-2 in overtime to win the game 12-11.
The loss to UMass moved GW into the losers’ bracket, where the Colonials played Boston College Saturday morning. The Colonials showed signs of improvement throughout the game but continued to struggle through mistakes as they defeated the Eagles 10-6.
Saturday evening, the Colonials faced Richmond and won the game 7-6 with strong defensive play, led by junior goalie Tony Paster. GW controlled most of the game but had trouble getting its offense to click.
GW’s final game was against Navy’s JV team Sunday morning. GW jumped out to a quick lead as signs of last season’s potent offense began to surface. After opening up a 4-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, GW never looked back. The Colonials dominated the Midshipmen, winning 15-2.
“I thought we finally exhibited a lot of teamwork in the Navy game as opposed to the other games,” GW head coach Van Hoffman said. “It was good to play Navy. It makes us have to come out ready to play a good game.”
GW was led by solid play from returning players such as Brandon Stout, Rush Taylor, Bill Blackburn, Jeremy Yamamoto and Paster.
Several newcomers also proved their worth to the team with some excellent play over the weekend. Leading the new players were Josh Gimpelson, Chris Ansevin and Jared Green, who demonstrated their strengths both offensively and defensively.
GW graduated seven players from last year’s team, which advanced farther than any other GW water polo team in school history. Last year, the Colonials finished the season with a 23-10 record and were ranked as high as 16th in the nation. They advanced to the Eastern Championships and finished fifth, just shy of earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Hoffman had his work cut out for him in the off-season as he tried to fill the spots left vacant by such players as Peter Clifford and Brent Stoll, who were two of the top players on last year’s team. With seven players returning from last year, Hoffman recruited six freshmen and one sophomore transfer student to complete this year’s roster.
GW will travel to a tournament at Princeton University Sept. 12-13 and will play Navy’s varsity team at 10 a.m. Saturday. Following that game, GW will face Bucknell University.
“There’s no doubt that this weekend will be a very good test for us,” Hoffman said.