The GW women’s water polo team and Harvard University are the only nationally unranked teams competing at this weekend’s Eastern Championships at Brown University. Eight teams will compete for the top position. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships at Stanford University May 12-13.
“It is the toughest tournament there is,” GW head coach Scott Reed said. “Six of eight teams there are (nationally) ranked in the top 20.”
Princeton University leads the field, ranked 14th. The University of Michigan is ranked 15th, and Indiana University is ranked 18th. Reed said his team can finish among the top four teams.
Saturday morning’s opening round will begin at noon with the Colonials battling Hartwick College. Hartwick defeated the Colonials 11-4 at the Smith Center on March 31 in an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference match. The Colonials kept the Hawks close but made key mistakes after halftime and blew chances offensively. Reed said his team has improved and has matured since the loss to the Hawks.
“If Hartwick is expecting the same team they beat earlier this year, they’re in for a big surprise,” Reed said. “Without a doubt, we’re a better team now. We’re playing at a very high level right now.”
In the second round, GW will play the winner of the Michigan-Brown University match. The Colonials are guaranteed to play three games even if they lose in the first round.
The Colonials have not competed since April 7 when they qualified for the Championships with a fourth-place finish at the Southern Championships in Grove City, Pa.
While it is a crowning achievement to advance this far, Reed said his team would not be happy unless they win some matches at the Championships. The Colonials have been successful with a blending of balanced scoring and tough defense. Reed said he is not looking for one player to lead the team, but for the team to play as it has all season.