The GW men’s water polo team fell one win short of extending its season this weekend, winning three out of its four games at the Southern Championships to finished fifth out of the tournament’s 12 teams. Since only the top four finishers at Southerns advance to next weekend’s Eastern Championships, the Colonials’ season ended in Princeton, N.J.
GW (7-17)lost its first game to Johns Hopkins, a team that GW had nearly beaten twice earlier in the season, losing one contest by one point and one by two points. GW lost the game 8-4. Had they won, the team would have been in the top four and qualified for Easterns. The top finisher at the Eastern championship then advances to water polo’s four-team NCAA tournament in Los Angeles, Calif.
“We had a lot of confidence and we had our chances to win,” head coach Scott Reed said. “We put together a very good game plan but had trouble putting the ball in the net.”
In a battle between national powerhouses, No. 14 Navy knocked off No. 13 Princeton to settle first and second place in the tournament, followed by Johns Hopkins in third and Bucknell University in fourth. The win is the Midshipmen’s eighth Southern title in school history and serves as revenge over the Princeton Tigers, who beat out Navy for last year’s Southern title.
The Colonials were seeded sixth heading into the tournament and moved up a spot in the final rankings. To do well in the future, Reed said, the team needs to step up its experience.
“One of biggest problems is we had a lot of new players. We all knew (the season) was going to be a challenge,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to put it in net and we didn’t. We made it more difficult than it had to be.”
Next year Reed said he expects a better outcome as he will retain his entire staring lineup, including leading scorer Pat Dodge.
“If we start the way we finished off this fall we will be in very good shape next year,” he said.
After losing to Johns Hopkins, the Colonials went on to win their next three games, starting with a 15-6 victory over Grove City College. Reed said the game was totally different from the Johns Hopkins loss and that his team immediately took control.
“It was a strong game by us, we really did a good job on defense,” he said.
The Colonials played with a similar intensity in their win over Gannon University, resulting in a 14-8 victory. The Colonials took a 5-2 lead after the first period and never trailed.
“We just jumped all over them and never looked back from there,” Reed said.
The final game of the tournament, against Salem State International, a team the Colonials beat twice already this season, was not as easy as expected. The game stayed tight for three of the four quarters, but GW outscored Salem 2-0 in the second quarter, making the difference in GW’s 8-6 win.
“It was a real defensive battle,” Reed said. “We had problems on offense and a lot of easy opportunities that we couldn’t convert.”