To GW men’s water polo head coach Scott Reed, last year’s fifth-place finish at the Collegiate Water Polo Southern Championships left a bittersweet taste in the Colonials’ mouth, as they missed qualifying for Conference Championship play by one spot.
“This year, simply put, we want to set ourselves up for a Southern Championship title and get a bid to NCAAs,” Reed said. “(In) past years, we tried just to get close enough to qualify, but this year, it’s not enough. We want to win regionals and make our presence know at the NCAAs.”
The team plans to reach this goal by using its experience. The entire starting lineup has returned from last year’s team, which finished 7-17. They have also added some promising new faces to combine with the experienced players for a stronger, faster squad.
For leadership, Reed points to the team’s four seniors, including three-time team Most Valuable Player and all-conference team member Pat Dodge. He is joined by classmates Jason Grimes, Gur Doitel and goalie Chris Blick.
“As for the younger players, it’s hard to point out a ‘best’ or ‘stronger’ player from our underclassmen,” Reed said. “The two new freshmen have already gone above and beyond my expectations and all the returning players have stepped it up, making a huge and noticeable improvement in their play and dedication. Having such a deep and strong team makes me confident for the rest of the season.”
The schedule for the Colonials will be tough, Reed said, but GW will only play Bucknell University, its biggest rival, once. Johns Hopkins University will be the team’s toughest challenge, Reed said, and a possible emerging rival.
“We will meet up with Johns Hopkins several times this year and we know they will be a tough competitor, which will make us a tougher and more competitive team,” he said. “However, our toughest match so far this season came from St. Francis at the Navy Open. They are one of the top teams and they are very physical, which in turn showed my guys how to be physically aggressive and resilient in a game.”
At the Navy Open, the men finished 2-2 with wins against Fordham and Toronto University and losses against Massachusetts Institute of Technology and St. Francis College. That weekend is a good indicator of the team’s characteristics, Reed said.
“Our strength this season will be our dedication and experience ,while our weaknesses come from inconsistencies in our offense, which appears in an unnatural manner,” he said. “This weakness has been our main focus in practices as we head into league play.”
If the Colonials can improve on those inconsistencies, they could grab one of those four spots in the Conference Championships.
“The team is very energized and self-assured about the upcoming season,” Reed said. “They know what they’re capable of and are most confident about reaching our goals.”