It’s been a bad run for the GW men’s water polo team.
The Colonials fell to Johns Hopkins 11-8 at the Smith Center on Tuesday, adding another loss to their 7-17 record. The team’s final home game was a sad look at the final stages of a season that held much potential.
They began this year ranked 18th in the nation, with an experienced team and an optimistic shot at the NCAA Final Four, reached only by winning the Eastern Championships.
“The season overall has not been what we envisioned by any means,” coach Scott Reed said. “We figured we’d have a lot more wins, that we would be not struggling with the problems that we have right now because the majority of the team did return.”
It doesn’t help that David Zenk, the program’s first All-American selection, has missed much of the season with a broken hand.
“It’s always tough when you lose one of your best players in David Zenk but I think that we’re starting to figure out how to play without him,” freshman goalie Alex Sotolongo said. “We’re starting to pick things up; it’s just the defense isn’t always there.”
Though Tuesday’s game was close through the first three quarters, Johns Hopkins pulled away to take the game by three goals.
The match-up left a Johns Hopkins player in the hospital and a GW player ejected from the game for an intentional kick in the fourth quarter, a move that gave Johns Hopkins a penalty shot, the ball and ultimately the game.
“Johns Hopkins is a very physical team and you have to really keep your composure throughout the entire game in order to actually win,” senior Sergei Shev said. “I think we lost our concentration and our focus. Hopkins is really good at getting you out of your mindset. They played pretty brutally. It gets you out of your mindset for winning the game.”
This season’s problem hasn’t been the skill level of the players, Reed said. Sophomore Nick Yeager and senior Nick Eddy are both consistent scorers, and Eddy has 173 career goals, the ninth-highest in program history. Sotolongo was named Collegiate Water Polo Association Rookie of the Week in September. The problem has been in how they work together.
“Nick Eddy’s been really carrying a load on the offensive end. Now the problem is we tend to just sit and watch him instead of continuing onwards. It’s kind of like the Michael Jordan effect,” Reed said. “Everyone wants to watch instead of realizing they have to start playing. You just can’t sit around and watch.”
With the season’s end rapidly approaching, the team does not have much more time to make that realization. If they do, however, it could mean a successful end to an otherwise disappointing season.