After a 3-1 start to the 1998 season, the GW water polo team hopes to continue last year’s success with seven returning players and seven new players this season.
Last season was one of the best on record for GW water polo – the team was ranked as high as 16th in the nation and advanced to the Collegiate Water Polo Eastern Championship.
Last season, the roster was filled with star players such as Peter Clifford and Brent Stoll. The team lost seven players to graduation, but GW head coach Van Hoffman will look to his returning stars to lead the team and show the newcomers how to adjust to Division I water polo.
To repeat last year’s success, the Colonials need another stellar year from junior goalkeeper Tony Paster and junior driver Rush Taylor. Taylor lead the team last year for the second consecutive season in shooting percentage, scoring 65 goals on 162 shots. Taylor said he looks forward to the rest of the season and is confident the young players will have an impact on this season’s success.
“We’ve got a lot of unrefined talent this year,” Taylor said. “If we can harness that talent, we’ll be able to compete with anyone in this league.”
The Colonials also will need another great year out of senior utility man Brandon Stout. He was the second-leading scorer on the team last season, finishing just one goal behind Stoll with 68.
“I also expect (junior utility) Bill Blackburn to have a big impact on the team this year,” Hoffman said, “He plays very good defense, and he’ll prove to be extremely valuable in our transition game.”
While Hoffman expects his new players to contribute all season long, he said he looks for sophomore transfer Josh Gimpelson and freshmen Chris Ansevin and Jahred Green to stand out and have the biggest impact on the team.
“These three guys are going to get in the water and make plays for us right away,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said he expects to have another successful season. He said the Navy Tournament last weekend, in which the Colonials placed ninth out of 16 teams, showed the league has a lot of parity this year. He said he hopes his Colonials will be among the handful of teams to rise to the top of the league and will have a good seed going into the CWPA Southern Championships at the end of the season.
After the CWPA league games are completed, the Colonials will travel west to play in a tournament in California and another in Colorado. Hoffman said he plans to use the trip to prepare his team for the postseason, as it will play 11 straight games in 30-meter all-deep pools against very tough competition.