The year in GW sports

It was an up-and-down year throughout GW athletics. No team brought home an Atlantic 10 Championship and both basketball squads saw their seasons end earlier than they might have hoped.

Still, plenty was accomplished across the broad spectrum of Colonials sports. Even without championship hardware, teams excelled in their own right, racking up regular season success and accomplishing other sets of goals. Several individuals stood out as well.

An audio slide show:

The run-down:

Women’s basketball falls to middle of A-10 pack, loses in first game of WNIT

First-year head coach Mike Bozeman had his work cut out for him in his initial season at the helm of the GW women’s basketball program. Not only did he have to replace a beloved and accomplished predecessor in the departing Joe McKeown, but he also had to fill some daunting shoes on the court as well. Graduations from last year’s senior-heavy squad meant big demands for a slew of newcomers that Bozeman described before the season as “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”

The team’s inexperience manifested itself in its struggles on the road and the Colonials didn’t win a game away from Smith Center until mid-January. Playing at home wasn’t the breeze it has normally been for GW either, as the Colonials regularly found themselves in tight contests against the types of opponents they had cruised past in recent years. They even lost on Senior Day, something they hadn’t done since 1991.

Their 9-5 conference performance resulted in a fifth seed in the A-10 Tournament, meaning they had to play in the championship’s opening round for the first time in 23 years. The Colonials wouldn’t make it any further, as they were upset by No. 12 seed Rhode Island and sent home early.

An invite to the WNIT may have provided some solace, but GW was again bounced from the first round, falling in double overtime at upstart Florida Gulf Coast.

Men struggle, miss A-10 tourney again

Coming off a disappointing 2007-2008 campaign, the Colonials seemed poised for a rebound season of sorts, with a trio of talented seniors and a determination to put last season’s frustrations behind them.

But after a 2-0 start, GW suffered a pair of setbacks, squandering a large halftime lead at Auburn before being crushed by Maryland at the BB&T Classic. Though the Colonials rebounded with some mid-December wins, more turbulence was just around the corner in the form of a disastrous trip to Hawaii in which they lost all three games during a Honolulu tournament.

Unfortunately for GW, that was just the beginning of an ugly slide that saw the team drop 11 consecutive games, their longest such streak since 2002. Head coach Karl Hobbs came under criticism during this stretch, but the team showed some late-season fire, at one point winning three of four games.

It would not continue, however, and the Colonials dropped their final two contests of the season to finish 13th in the 14-team A-10, missing the conference tournament for the second straight season.

Stadler stars, but men’s soccer stumbles

Junior Andy Stadler began the season with a bang and never looked back, striking an equalizing goal in GW’s season opener that was the first of his nine goals in the Colonials’ first seven matches. Stadler’s scoring average led the nation at the time, but the standout forward would score just once in GW’s next three matches – a pair of losses and a draw.

The Colonials would lose twice and draw once more over their remaining seven games to finish on the outside of the six-team A-10 postseason thanks to a tiebreaker. The sting of missing the championship tournament was only worsened by its nature: needing only a draw to qualify, the Colonials lost 2-1 at home to St. Bonaventure, only their second loss of the season at the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex.

After the season, Stadler was named first team all-region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the first Colonial to do so in nearly two decades. He also finished the regular season fourth nationally in scoring average with 0.88 goals per game.

Donohue’s dominance sets pace for lacrosse

The GW lacrosse team just made the cut for the A-10 Tournament, earning their bid on a tiebreaker after finishing with a 4-3 conference record identical to that of Duquesne, whom they had beaten in the first game on their A-10 slate. They only reached that mark by winning their final game of the regular season, a rubber match that decided their fate after consecutive winning and losing streaks of three games apiece.

The Colonials’ trip to the A-10 Tournament would be short-lived, however, as they exited quickly after a close 12-9 loss to UMass, the tournament’s top seed.

The team’s driving force throughout the season was the offensive firepower provided by junior Taylor Donohue, who scored a team-high 30 goals on the year and became the first GW player to be named the A-10 Player of the Week twice in one season. She also recorded the 100th goal of her career, making her the seventh Colonial to reach the mark.

Hogan takes title at Penn Relays

Running cross country at GW wasn’t originally in redshirt sophomore Megan Hogan’s plans. But after abandoning a potential basketball career at Mount Ida College in Massachusetts, she’s become an elite runner for the Colonials, finishing second in the 5-kilometer race in November’s A-10 Championships.

Hogan’s accomplishments were just getting started, however, as she participated in the 10,000-meter College Women’s Championship at the Penn Relays in April, one of the sport’s premier meets. The sophomore won the race by a whopping 44 seconds, setting a GW record with her time of 33:55.23 and coming just 23 hundredths of a second short of automatically qualifying for the USA Track & Field Championships.

With the Penn Relays victory under her belt, Hogan said her attention will now shift to qualifying for June’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

Men’s tennis upset again as conference’s top seed

To describe GW’s men’s tennis team as young may be an understatement: The nine-member team featured four sophomores, five freshmen and no upperclassmen. But what the Colonials may have lacked in experience they made up for in talent, running through an undefeated A-10 season, led by freshman Ugur Atalay, who was named the conference’s top rookie and joined sophomore Yan Levinski on the conference’s first team.

Their perfect march through the conference earned the Colonials the top seed in the A-10 Tournament, but just as they did when No. 1 a year before, GW fell before bringing home the title. The Colonials were edged by St. Bonaventure in the championship semifinals, finishing third after winning their consolation contest.

Zenk leaves extensive legacy in GW pool

In his four-year GW career, David Zenk didn’t just play two sports – he shined in them.

This February, the swimming and water polo standout broke the A-10 200-yard backstroke record at the conference championships on his way to becoming the first player in conference history to be named the event’s most outstanding performer three times. Zenk also set GW records in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle and 200- and 400-yard individual medley races at the same event.

Although a wrist injury kept him out of action for nearly half the water polo season this past fall, Zenk was still named to the CWPA All-South Division second team along with teammate Nick Eddy. In the 16 contests in which he played, Zenk tallied 57 points on 23 goals and a GW-best 34 assists. He leaves GW as the school’s all-time leader in four categories, including assists (158) and steals (269) and fourth all-time in total points.

Volleyball wins A-10 East

After being just one year removed from a roster devoid of any postseason experience whatsoever, the GW volleyball team followed 2007’s A-10 Tournament berth with an A-10 East Division title this fall.

Though they struggled out of the gate, losing three of their first four conference matches, the Colonials caught fire, winning eight of the remaining nine – and 12 of 14 overall – to capture the division crown. Seeded third entering the conference tournament, GW won their first-round contest before falling in the semifinals.

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