The Colonials have a valuable weapon in their arsenal as they prepare for the A-10 tournament this weekend: They’re hot on the road.
GW possesses a 13-4 record away from its home court. It’s a pattern of play that’s indicative of the team’s chemistry, proof of a unity throughout the roster that boosts the play of each member of the team.
The team’s ease with each other and experience will be one of the biggest aids to GW’s play in the postseason, head coach Dawn Buth said.
“In the last two years, we’ve had a lot of matches in the A-10 tournament which have come down to 4-3 or the last match,” Buth said. “That’s where experience – knowing and loving pressure – is a huge part of what we have, sort of in our tool kit of things to use.”
GW has more than just its camaraderie boosting play heading into this weekend’s conference tournament at Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. The team has built up valuable momentum over the last three weeks of the season.
The Colonials own just a .500 record in conference play this season, but they’ve won their last four matches, allowing opponents to earn just two points over that period. Their 6-1 conference victory over Saint Joseph’s April 14 pulled GW’s league record to an even 3-3.
The Colonials roster has a unique quality this season, as it is filled by players who have been to the A-10 tournament. Senior Jacqueline Corba said the team sees its lack of young members as a positive heading into high-pressure postseason play.
“We have no freshmen, so we all have great experience,” Corba said. “Two years ago we got second place and obviously last year we got fourth place, so we’re really looking to take the win and hopefully do well this weekend.”
Buth said the team’s seen a boost in confidence from the recent victories, saying the Colonials have given themselves an “advantage” moving forward into the postseason.
Senior Zoe Krohn echoed her coach, speaking specifically to the boost the winning streak gives her and doubles partner, junior Mimi Hamling.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost for both Mimi and I,” Krohn said. “We’re a great team together because we really complement our games. So we’re fairly, actually, we’re really confident right now going into A-10’s.”
Last season, GW defeated Rhode Island and Xavier in opening play before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Richmond in the quarterfinals, finishing fourth overall. This year, the Colonials are the No. 6 seed, and will open play against No. 11 Saint Joseph’s.
Massachusetts, Charlotte and Richmond earned the first through third seeds, respectively, a glimpse of the strong competition the Colonials could face over the tournament. Tantamount to GW’s success during postseason play will be its ability to remain flexible and adjust mid-match, like it did against the Hawks in the last match of the regular season. The ability to stay loose, Buth said, was key to the Colonials’ victory, an important characteristic to bring into A-10 tournament play.
“In the doubles, Zoe and Mimi came out, and competed terrifically and made important adjustments,” Buth said. “[sophomore] Leah [Pascarella], in her singles, was definitely close in the first set and she made some adjustments, and was a great problem solver, and did a terrific job.”
Postseason play often comes down to the wire, Buth said, especially against the tough league competition. She expects each individual match to be a battle, and said the Colonials don’t foresee any opponent presenting an opportunity for an easy victory.
The key for GW will be to remain focused, its head coach said.
“As a team, staying consistent is huge – being able to come out each and every point and each and every match and compete consistently will be enormous,” Buth said. “It’s all gonna be a battle and it’ll be a fun tournament. We’re really looking forward to it.”
This article appeared in the April 19, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.