The men’s water polo team is hard at work to surpass last season’s success with a new coach – the team’s third coach in four seasons. The team finished 18-13 last year while placing eighth in the Eastern Championships.
At 28 years old, Scott Reed took over the coaching duties this year and has re-focused the team’s goals on conditioning, leadership and overall improvement.
“Conditioning is one of the most important things (in water polo),” Reed said. “You have to be in good shape to play.”
Coach Reed said four senior players have played particularly strong leadership roles this season. He said senior Rush Taylor, the team’s second leading scorer last season, has been a positive influence on the younger team members. Going into his fourth season as a starter, senior goalie Tony Paster is the core of the team’s defense. Seniors Bill Blackburn and Doug Maitz have played important leadership roles as well. Coach Reed says he hopes to see this trend continue.
Despite his inexperience at the collegiate level, freshman Chris Green has started every game this season, something Coach Reed said is not common.
“I want him to have an immediate impact,” Reed said.
This season, the team has already faced tough competition. At the Navy Invitational Sept. 3-5 in Annapolis, Md., the Colonials ended the event with a 1-3 record. The Colonials beat Boston College 7-3 Sept. 4. They dropped a tough battle to No. 11 UMass, and the following day GW lost to No. 15 Bucknell University 11-8 and Salem-Teikyo University l l-10.
Although two of the four teams the Colonials faced ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation, Reed was pleased that his team was still able to play competitively as a cohesive unit. Reed took the team’s performance at the Navy Invitational as the first stepping stone toward improvement.
The following week, the team headed to Grove City, Pa., for a set of three games at Grove City College. The Colonials’ performance at Grove City marked an improvement from the previous weekend. While beating Washington & Jefferson College 19-7 and Johns Hopkins University 8-6, GW fell short only to No. 17 Princeton 18-9.
“We got very frustrated (against Princeton),” Reed said.
Fortunately for the team, it seems everyone has reacted well to the new system Reed brought to GW. Despite the team’s lack of coaching stability in the past four years, or perhaps because of it, Reed said the players are adjusting easily to his coaching style.
“They are a real good group of kids,” Reed said. “They have reacted positively to the changes so far.”
To qualify for the Eastern Championships Nov. 13-14, the team must place among the top four teams at the Southern Championships held Oct. 30-31. The Colonials will compete in four separate events before then. Reed remains confident in the future of his team, having a good grasp on their abilities and potential.
“I don’t want us to peak now,” Reed said. “I want our peak to be during the Eastern Championships.”