Bogdan Petvokic took home plenty of hardware during his freshman season.
The former Serbian Cadet National Team captain tallied an astonishing 96 steals last season, setting a new school record. He was named Rookie of the Year in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Southern Division, and nabbed an All-American honorable mention recognition.
Now, in his sophomore year, is preparing himself to lead by example as the Colonials step into the pool for their first games of the year this weekend at the Navy Open in Annapolis, Md.
“I have my role, it’s already shaped. I feel pretty good about it because now I have some position on the team where I can help out of the pool and in the pool as well,” Petvokic said.
First, the team will need to shake off a bit of last season’s ghosts.
Going into last season’s CWPA Championships, the Colonials found themselves facing it’s worst possible opponent: nationally ranked No.17 Bucknell.
Despite playing their best water polo of the year at those championships, the poor seeding that resulted from inconsistent regular season play led to the year’s unfortunate ending.
This year, Petvokic said the squad he said was bolstered before its first games this weekend by a solid preseason.
“It was probably one of the best preseasons that we’ve ever had. With all of the experience that we have on the team it was a pretty easy adjustment for the incoming freshmen – there’s no pressure on them – and the upper classmen did a good job of showing them the way to make it a pretty smooth preseason,” he said.
Petkovic and the 12 other returning letterwinners have already had a chance to get to know the teams four freshmen this preseason, with Petvokic describing the early training in one word: “Hard.”
“It was shorter than last year but at the same time it was twice as hard because it was shorter. Six hours a day in the pool, plus lifting, so it was hard but it’s already paying off,” he said.
Those long days in the pool included drills where players had to tread water while holding water cooler jugs above their heads. This hard work in preseason training is worth it, head Coach Scott Reed said, as the Colonials prepare themselves for competition in a very tough division.
“There are probably eight teams out there that can probably put together a great performance and win conference championships,” Reed said. “Every league game that we play is going to be extremely difficult.
Petvokic echoed his coach’s remarks, saying, that despite the CWPA Championships expanding the number of qualifying teams from eight to 12, it will be no easy task in the Southern Division.
“The division is pretty tough because it’s pretty even. You don’t have any games you can ease through, so every game counts,” he said. “That’s what it really comes down to, every game counts and every game you’re on the verge of winning or losing and that’s what really determines the champions.”
This season, the Colonials will count on their experience, with nine upperclassmen. They helped GW over the 300-goal mark for the second time in a row last season.
Last year;s potent offense is largely intact, with top scorers and seniors Daniel Tyner and Nate Little spurring on the offense.
Petvokic, along with senior Adam Streeter and sophomore Jonah Dowd, will anchor the defense that Reed said will need to stay consistent all season and all match long to improve on last year’s 12-16 record.
“This year, the goals are that we want to be very consistent about what we do during the regular season – no consecutive losses,” Reed said. “I think sometimes last year we kind of dwelled on those losses and that’s something we just want to keep moving forward from, instead of going backwards.”
The team did lose starting goalkeeper Cameron Illes. The job of filling his role will fall to sophomore Connor Dillon, with freshman Sander Profaci right on his heels for the starting position.