2017-18 year in review: Teams start strong, some improve records

Media Credit: Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior attack Brett Else controls the ball in a water polo game against Navy in September.

With the 2017-18 season coming to a close, about half of the programs with win-loss records improved this season.

Of the eight women’s teams with win-loss records, four saw improved overall records and five teams owned better conference slates than last season. On the men’s side, three of the six teams with win-loss records saw improvement in their overall records, and three improved their conference results.

Three programs captured conference titles this season, one more than last year. Women’s basketball grabbed its seventh Atlantic 10 Championship crown in program history in March and men’s water polo won the program’s first Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference Championship and made the program’s first NCAA appearance in November. Men’s swimming and diving captured its second consecutive A-10 Swimming and Diving Championship in February.

Here’s a look back on the 2017-18 season, and a peek toward next year:

Hot start, cold finish
Three spring teams had significant, record-breaking non-conference performances – but struggled when it came to A-10 play.

Softball won more games in a single season than the program ever had – capturing 33 overall victories. The team’s 13-game win streak in the middle of the season also set a new program record, and sophomore utility player Jenna Cone reached base in a program-high 35 consecutive games. Despite the early season dominance, a six-game losing streak and 12–11 conference record forced GW to barely qualify for the A-10 Championship as the sixth and final seed.

Lacrosse bounced back from its worst season in program history last year, going 9-8 overall. Heading into A-10 play, the Colonials were 7–1, and the team’s two consecutive wins to open the year was its best start since its inception. But a 2–7 record against conference opponents plummeted the Colonials down the rankings and force them to miss out on the A-10 tournament for the fifth consecutive year.

Baseball’s offense was powered in part by senior utility player Isaiah Pasteur, whose 32-game hit streak inked his name in program history. The Colonials’ .288 team batting average and 531 total hits this season are league-leading, but the team lost seven of its last nine games of the season. A 5–4 win against Saint Louis Saturday clinched the team’s fourth-straight A-10 Championship berth, but the team heads into the tournament as the No. 7 seed – the last qualifying position.

Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Baseball players stand inside the dugout during a game against George Mason earlier this month.

Losing senior leadership
A crop of graduating athletes – who have consistently stood out and led their programs to successful seasons this year – will hang up their jerseys.

Swimming and diving senior Gustav Hokfelt had a hand in six of the program’s 12 new records this season, including four individual records in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard backstroke. Hokfelt’s trip to the NCAA Championship in March made him just the fourth swimmer in program history to compete at the national competition. He competed in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke.

Gymnastics finished fifth in the NCAA Raleigh Regionals and third in the EAGL Championships, but senior Cami Drouin-Allaire continued on to become the first gymnast in program history to make three appearances at the NCAA Championship.

Men’s track and field senior distance runner Carter Day and graduate student Matt Lange will compete at the NCAA East Preliminary Competition as the first runners in program history to make an appearance at the national level. The team secured its first gold medals in outdoor track and field when Day won the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter race.

Men’s basketball senior guard Yuta Watanabe led the Colonials in scoring (16.3 points per game), blocked shots (54), defensive rebounds (4.8 per game) and made field goals (193) this season, despite GW finishing the season with the first losing record in five years.

Women’s basketball was led by senior guard Brianna Cummings. Cummings averaged 14.3 points per game and a team-high 34.3 minutes per game. She started in all 33 of the Colonials’ contests and earned the Most Outstanding Player award in the A-10 Championship.

Young returners fill in gaps
A number of teams will return strong crops of athletes who made their marks in 2017-18.

Freshman Zoe Foo Yuk Han led the Colonials in her collegiate squash debut season. The rookie earned Collegiate Squash Association Second-Team All-American honors and helped the program finish ranked No. 14 in the country.

Women’s water polo was led by young talent in freshman utility Alana Ponce. The rookie tallied a team-high 65 goals in her breakout campaign. The team is set to return Ponce and freshman attack Grace Heck, who combined for 104 goals on the year.

Freshman guard Terry Nolan Jr. was the leading rookie for men’s basketball this season averaging 9.1 points per game and clocking 29.4 minutes per contest. On the women’s side, freshman forward Neila Luma started in 31 contests and averaged 26.9 minutes per game. She grabbed a team-leading 217 boards this season for an average of 6.6 boards per game.

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