The GW women’s water polo team placed fourth at the Southern Championships in Grove City, Pa., Friday and Saturday, securing a spot at the Eastern Championships April 28 and 29 in Providence, RI. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
Princeton University won the Southern Championships ahead of second-place University of Michigan and third-place University of Indiana.
Indiana ended the Colonials’ weekend with an 11-7 victory Saturday. The Colonials kept pace with No. 18 Indiana until the third quarter. After GW led 7-4 in the third period, the Hoosiers capitalized on GW mental mistakes.
“We made mistakes,” GW coach Scott Reed said. “We relaxed for a couple of minutes and they took advantage.”
Reed said he was impressed with his freshmen, who led the team in scoring against Michigan. Freshmen Mia Fabian and Vanessa Fravel each scored two goals.
“The freshman really stepped up during the game,” Reed said. “Vanessa (Fravel) greatly improved since the last tournament. And as a whole, our young team really stepped up. The improvement showed in their playing. We are peaking at the right time. We will peak at the Eastern Championships.”
Sophomore Ashley Pyka also scored two goals, while senior Heather Walenga scored one.
Earlier in the day, No. 13 Michigan defeated GW 11-3. Reed said the team suffered a mental lapse in the second half, which contributed to the loss.
“We beat ourselves in the second half,” Reed said. “We played a great first half against Michigan, and then we relaxed for a second in the third quarter and we couldn’t recover from it. Michigan is the type of team that you can’t relax for a second because they’ll kill you.”
Fabian and Fravel again lead the team in goals. Fabian scored two goals and Fravel scored one. Junior Lisa Greenfield had 8 blocks in goal during the game.
The Colonials won both their games on Friday with a high-powered offense. They defeated Washington and Jefferson College 17-9 after a 16-5 defeat of Gannon University.
“We did what we had to do,” Reed said. “It was expected that we would win. (Gannon and Washington and Jefferson) were both lower ranked teams. We were far better and we got the job done. We controlled the tempo of both games.”
Walenga combined for nine goals in the two games.
“Heather stood out in the scoring,” Reed said. “Everyone else was pretty balanced. It was really good team playing. There was good team defense and offense. We are really starting to peak. We took the lead from the start in both games and we never looked back.”
Some of the most competitive teams in the country competed in the two-day tournament including No. 15 Princeton University.