New leadership, high expectations: What’s ahead for each fall team

Media Credit: Sam Frey | Staff Photographer

Junior midfielder Olivia Di Cristofaro fends off a Delaware player during a game on Thursday.

The 2018 season is already underway for some fall sports, but before the teams head into Atlantic 10 play – they will compete against tough nonconference opponents.

From the sidelines, half of the teams’ head coaches – Barry King of men’s water polo, Sarah Bernson of volleyball and Michelle Demko of women’s soccer – have been with their respective programs for no more than two years.

Two programs, men’s water polo and men’s cross country, are coming off of program-best finishes from last year, and volleyball was picked to finish fifth in the A-10 preseason poll, one slot higher than its predicted rank last season.

Men’s soccer is coming off a first-round exit from the A–10 tournament last season and will face a tough nonconference schedule before A–10 play, and women’s soccer has picked up four-straight wins to open its first season under Demko.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead for each fall sports program:

Men’s soccer
Men’s soccer opened its season with a 3–2 victory over Stony Brook Friday night, but the team has a tough schedule ahead of it.

GW does not have a single winning record against any of the team’s nonconference opponents, with the exceptions of Brown and Providence College, two teams the Colonials are facing for the first time in program history.

The Colonials last played American to a 1–2 loss in 2015 and gutted out a 1–0 victory over Lehigh last season, tying the series between the teams.

The toughest part of GW’s nonconference slate comes in the final two games before A–10 play. The Colonials will host Binghamton for a rematch of last season’s 4–0 loss before traveling to face Duke on the road, a team GW has yet to beat.

Six games into A–10 play, the Colonials will take on UMBC on the road to wrap up nonconference play for GW.

Men’s and women’s cross country
This season’s slate and roster look nearly identical to the previous year for the men’s and women’s cross country teams.

The men’s side finished in a program-high third place last year at the A-10 Championship and are set to return 17 runners from last season’s roster. The women’s team placed sixth in a field of 14 schools at the conference finale last year for the second consecutive year. The squad is set to return 18 runners from last year’s roster of 22.

With just four meets scheduled, the Colonials will have one fewer contest than last season before the A-10 Championship.

The Colonials open their season in familiar territory at the Mount St. Mary’s Duals meet for the fourth year in a row Aug. 31. Last season, both teams placed second in the field and had runners score in the top-10 spots.

Both teams will then compete for the first time at the Adidas XC Challenge in North Carolina in September before returning to the Paul Short Run, where both teams finished in top-three spots.

The Colonials’ final meet before the A-10 is the Princeton Invitational, where the women’s team finished 14th out of 20 teams and the men’s 11th in a field of 22 last season.

Volleyball faced off against two familiar opponents to open the 2018 season, but will compete against a slew of new opponents in its nonconference schedule before heading into A-10 play.

The Colonials opened their slate at home against Howard and American – two opponents they faced last year – with two consecutive losses.

Nine of the team’s 13 nonconference opponents will be new opponents under second-year head coach Bernson. Just three of GW’s nonconference opponents held winning records last season but of those three, two teams – American and LIU Brooklyn – won their respective conferences.

GW will embark on a six-game road trip during which four teams will be new additions from last year’s schedule. Heading into A-10 play, the Colonials will enjoy a five-game homestand when they host the Dig the District Invitational in September.

Last season, GW lost eight of its first 10 games of the season before a crucial three-game win streak in conference play helped them slide into the final spot in the A-10 tournament as the No. 6 seed.

The squad became the first No. 6 seed in tournament history to win a match in the postseason tournament when they defeated No. 3 seed Saint Louis. The Colonials ultimately fell to Dayton to end their postseason run.

Men’s water polo
Under second-year head coach Barry King, the defending Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference champions will play in three-straight tournaments in their nonconference slate for a total of 11 games.

GW will open its season at the Navy Open, a tournament the Colonials won all three of their games in last season. The second tournament of the season, the Princeton Invitational, posed a struggle for the Colonials last season when they dropped three of four games in the tournament to Harvard, UCLA and Brown.

The team’s nonconference schedule replaces the Bucknell Invitational with the Aggie Shootout in the final tournament slot before MAWPC play.

Later in the season, the Colonials will take a break from conference play to host Austin College and Connecticut College for the first time in program history.

The team returns its top-three goal scorers in junior center Andrew Mavis and sophomore utility players Andras Levai and junior Atakan Destici. The core of last season’s team returns after losing just four players from the roster.

The Colonials ended their 2017 season at the NCAA Tournament, the program’s first appearance in the competition.

Women’s soccer
The Colonials are off to a hot start this season and enjoying a four-game win streak under the first-year guidance of head coach Michelle Demko.

However, the team will be tested in the next four games as they take on programs they hold losing records against.

The Colonials will host crosstown rivals Georgetown Thursday, a team GW has only beaten once in 14 meetings. They will then travel to North Carolina to take on NC State, a team the program also hasn’t won against in five contests.

The Colonials round out their nonconference slate against James Madison at home. GW pulled out a 2–1 overtime win against the Dukes last season for just the second win against the team in program history.

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