Exactly one month after the start of its season, the GW water polo team finally played a home game. Judging by the results of its game against No. 14 Navy, the friendly confines of the Smith Center failed to provide a home pool advantage, as the Colonials lost 14-3 Tuesday night.
After starting out the season 6-3, GW has lost six straight games, including two losses to the Midshipmen. When GW visited Navy in Annapolis, Md., for a game Sept. 21, they showed determination and staged a fourth quarter rally that left the two teams tied late in the fourth quarter before Navy pulled away.
Tuesday was a different story, as Navy, which freshman Brendan Boerbaitz described as “fast, strong and physical,” outlasted GW, outscoring them 8-0 in the second half.
The first half was competitive, with freshman driver David Zenk, the College Water Polo Association’s Southern Division Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 7, continuing the hot start to his rookie year by scoring his team-leading 29th goal in the first quarter to put GW on the board.
“I didn’t expect Zenk to make such a big contribution offensively,” coach Scott Reed said. “I knew definitely he was going to be a very effective player on defense, but offensively it’s been quite a surprise.”
However, GW came out flat in the second half and sophomore goalie Chris Whittam, who saved 10 shots, could only do so much against the relentless Navy attack. GW shot only three for 29 for the game, continuing a recent trend of offensive futility. Navy scored four goals in each of the third and fourth quarters, reversing the clich? and proving that sometimes a good offense can be the best defense.
The speedy Navy offense wore down GW’s players, rendering them ineffective on Navy’s side of the pool.
“Navy played a little more aggressively but the big thing is that our offense has just been struggling,” Reed said. “When he you don’t score many goals, it creates opportunities for their offense. I think everyone needs to understand what their roles are. We’re trying to hard and just need to let everything flow naturally.”
“I think we are up to the task and have the ability as a team to be ready mentally and physically,” sophomore driver Nick Eddy said of the road trip.
One reason for GW’s lackluster record may be the quality of the teams it has played. Already this season the team has played four teams ranked in the top 20 nationally, including Navy twice, Princeton, Pacific and Johns Hopkins. After the Claremont Convergence, it has rematches against John Hopkins and Princeton. GW has yet to win a game against any of the powerhouses, but has shown in some matches that they can compete, such as in a three-point loss at No. 10 Princeton and the two-point loss to Navy.
With the CWPA Championship Tournament at the end of the month, the team hopes that the future is sooner rather than the later. Ideally, the unseasoned team will learn from losses like the one it suffered Tuesday night and come playoff time the players will have enough left in the tank to put their newfound experience to use.
If GW is tired now, they will be downright exhausted after their upcoming stretch of games. The team has six games in five days, including a trip to California to first play the Claremont Mudd Scripps at 10:30 p.m. (EST) before participating in the annual Claremont Convergance tournament over the weekend.