With three minutes left in the second quarter, women’s water polo goalkeeper Charlotte Schou focused as a shot rocketed toward her. Shooting her arm into the air, Schou deflected the ball, pushing it out of the pool to crash on the sidelines. But her athletic save only deterred Indiana’s players for a brief moment; they regained possession to take another shot, this time pushing it past Schou for the goal.
It was a brief series of play that provided a representation for the afternoon: despite the Colonials’ (6-17) best efforts, they were overpowered by an offensively dominant Indiana team, falling 13-8 on Senior Day at the Smith Center.
The game was fast paced and closely matched in the first half, marked by play up and down the pool. The Colonials and the Hoosiers exchanged goals, but GW clung to a narrow lead, thanks to junior Megan Walker’s three goals. Her hat trick was matched by fellow junior Allison Peotter, and the two were collectively responsible for six of GW’s eight goals. Schou also performed strongly for the Colonials, adding 12 saves, a team-high four steals and an assist. It was Schou’s fifth straight game with double-digit saves, making her GW’s career leader in that category.
“Normally, I’m pretty calm and collected. Sometimes I get a little nervous when it comes to counterattacks,” Schou said. “But I’ve had enough experience to keep my cool.”
It was in the third quarter, though, that Indiana took over the game with an offensive push that added six goals for the Hoosiers and held the Colonials scoreless for the entire third quarter.
“We knew that it would be a tougher team this time, but we hoped that with home court advantage, we had the win,” Schou said. “They’re quick to steal the ball, and they just had scoring opportunities in the third quarter.”
Indiana also ramped up their play defensively, a move that allowed them an 8-0 scoring run. The Hoosiers spread the Colonials across the pool, halting them from easily completing passes and finding scoring opportunities. As the shot clock ticked down, GW often found itself unable to follow through on plays. Combined with Indiana’s offensive explosion, the defensive shutdown cemented the Hoosiers’ takeover of the game.
“There was a little more frustration on our side,” head coach Scott Reed said. “A sense that we weren’t converting some of the opportunities that we had.”
Much of Indiana’s third quarter explosion found its roots in their physical style of play. They didn’t hesitate to throw themselves in front of GW players, or plant their bodies squarely in front of Colonials. It was, Reed said, a new level of physicality in play that his players were not used to, leading to mid-game adjustments and a sense of fatigue that contributed to their slide in play.
“They weren’t playing dirty, they were just playing a physical game. I think there were some adjustment problems in there,” Reed said. “All the games we’ve played this week have been pretty physical games and it’s been a big difference from the previous way we’ve played. It’s a little bit of a shock value.”
The loss was particularly disappointing given that it was Senior Day for the water polo team, honoring Schou, Melissa Sesana and Erin Delker. It was difficult, Schou said, to walk away without a victory in her last home game, compounded by the bittersweet emotions that accompany the graduation and exit of GW’s seniors.
“I’m really going to miss my four years here. I wish we could have pulled a win, but unfortunately it didn’t work that way,” Schou said. “It is emotional. I really hoped we had the win.”
They’ll be missed, he said, but the team’s focus for now is on the upcoming Collegiate Water Polo Association Eastern Championships, slated to begin April 29 in Bloomington, Ind.