Water polo wins two of three

The GW water polo team put itself in position for a successful postseason run with two wins and a loss Saturday in the first round of Collegiate Water Polo Association play at Johns Hopkins University.

The Colonials posted wins over Johns Hopkins and the University of Richmond and suffered a nail-biting loss to the U.S. Naval Academy in four overtime periods.

“We won the games we were supposed to win, and we very nearly won the game we weren’t supposed to win,” GW head coach Van Hoffman said.

The Colonials (8-3, 2-1 CWPA) opened the first round of play with a 15-13 victory over Johns Hopkins Saturday morning. GW had a balanced offensive attack as nine Colonials scored goals. They were led by Rush Taylor’s three goals, three assists and seven steals in the game, and Brandon Stout’s four goals, two assists and one steal.

While the scoreboard showed a closer game, GW controlled the first three periods and led 12-9 going into the final quarter. That final quarter proved to be devastating to the Colonials in more ways than one. Two of GW’s key players, juniors Bill Blackburn and Doug Maitz, were ejected from the game with questionable brutality penalties. The losses led to the Colonials being outscored 4-3 in the final quarter, but they still held on to win the game 15-13.

The brutality penalties proved to be more costly in the next game for the Colonials. Because of a new CWPA rule, anyone who receives a brutality penalty must sit out the team’s next game. This meant Hoffman would have to figure out how to beat Navy without Blackburn and Maitz.

Hoffman said his team prepared for Navy for two weeks, and the Colonials quickly proved they could compete with the Midshipmen. The first period set the tone for the game with both teams launching potent offensive attacks and making great defensive plays. The shoot-out between the two rivals was on as the first period ended in a 3-3 tie. GW stepped up its play in the second period and led 7-5 at halftime.

The second half was a defensive battle that was won by Navy as it outscored GW 3-1 to tie the score at 8-8 and force the game into overtime. The Colonials could not score at all in the fourth quarter, and Navy scored with 2:52 left to tie the game. Then, with only six seconds on the clock, a GW penalty left them a man down, and Navy had one last chance to win the game in regulation. However, goaltender Tony Paster made a big save to keep the score tied.

In the CWPA, if a game goes to overtime, two three-minute periods are played, followed by however many sudden-death periods are needed to determine the winner.

In the first overtime, GW outscored Navy 2-0, but the Midshipmen fought back in the second overtime to outscore GW 3-1, which forced a sudden-death overtime period.

The third period of overtime belonged to both teams’ goaltenders. GW’s Paster and Navy’ s Kevin Crisson were brick walls in front of their goals during the first sudden-death overtime, neither allowing a goal.

GW had many chances to win the game, but the fourth and final overtime proved to be the end for the Colonials. With just under two minutes left, Navy’s Trey Batten scored the winning goal for the Midshipmen. Batten is a player the Colonials know all too well – he is the younger brother of Dan Batten, who finished up his four years of water polo for GW last season.

Hoffman said he was happy with the way his team performed against Navy despite the loss.

“We only had a couple of lapses,” Hoffman said, “and you can’t have them against Navy.”

GW played solid defense and made 28 steals against Navy. The Colonials were led by Jeremy Yamamoto, who broke the school record for steals in a single game with 10.

The Colonials offense was led by Stout, who scored five goals. Taylor, Josh Gimpelson and Yamamoto each scored two goals, while freshman Jared Green had a big game with one goal, two assists and two steals.

The Colonials’ final game was Saturday night against Richmond. The Colonials had their third close game against the Spiders but maintained control as they went on to a 7-5 victory. GW had another balanced offensive attack as seven Colonials scored one goal. Yamamoto was on a roll again on defense, notching six more steals. He is on pace to break the GW record of 154 steals in a season.

Hoffman said he expects to win all four remaining league games. That would leave the Colonials with a 6-1 CWPA record and a high seed going into the Southern Championships.

“We’re in the driver’s seat to be a top-four seed at Southerns, and a first-round win there guarantees us a trip to Easterns,” Hoffman said.

The second round of the CWPA is Oct. 10-11 at Navy in Annapolis, Md.

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