Water polo looks to peak

As the GW women’s water polo team enters the 2004 season, it’s hoping to build on last year’s fourth place finish in the Collegiate Water Polo Association southern division. But to even match last year’s 18-13 record, the best mark in the program’s five-year history, the Colonials will have to replace five seniors who graduated from that team.

“We had our most successful season ever,” said head coach Scott Reed, who was named southern division coach of the year. “We hope to build on that and finish in the top five (in the conference) this year.”

Reed’s team finished seventh out of 12 teams in the Eastern Conference Championships, but that was with Ashley Pyka, GW’s all-time points leader, and Adrienne Taylor, who provided a strong punch offensively. But those two are now gone.

However, the team does return nearly 80 percent of its offensive production. They are led by senior co-captains Kira Canon and Vanessa Fravel. Canon made the Eastern Conference all-tournament team, and Fravel was named to the Southern Division all-tournament team last year. Utility player Elisabeth Schweitzer is the third senior.

“Those three will be relied on to lead this young team,” Reed said.

Drivers Kendra Shanley and Taraneh Bastani are the lone juniors, and goalie Amy Heineman is the only sophomore. The rest of the team members are freshmen, including Jenna Burnett, Erin Inkster and Morgan Hooker, who Reed said have already made contributions.

“Overall, I think we have more talent than we did last year,” he said. “This is a year to peak. Even though we have a lot of youth, our veteran players really account for a majority of our offense. As the season progresses, our freshmen will get their seasoning.”

The Colonials started the season last weekend at the Princeton Invitational, and they have already played three of their toughest matches of the year against nationally ranked University of Michigan, Brown University and Princeton University. GW lost to those three teams but beat Wagner College.

The Michigan game was particularly rough, as the Colonials lost 17-4, but Reed said the team can use the experience as a positive.

“That was a tough game, and it really opened the eyes of my freshmen,” Reed said.

In two weeks, GW plays another big game against No. 14 Indiana University.

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