Men’s water polo came out victorious Saturday after sweeping La Salle and No. 15 Bucknell in GW’s home opener at the Smith Center.
The No. 20 Colonials (13–4, 5–1 MAWPC) dominated La Salle (2–13, 0–5 MAWPC) 23–9 in their first match of the day before toppling conference rival Bucknell (8–2, 2–1 MAWPC) 20–9.
Junior center Andrew Mavis led the Colonials with 11 goals between the two games, followed by senior utility player Jack Kerwin who netted eight goals in the day.
The Colonials have now broken the 20-goal mark in three consecutive games starting Friday night when GW took down Johns Hopkins 21–18.
“We’re starting to develop a chemistry with our eye contact and our hand motions,” Mavis said. “We’re just clicking, we’re all playing for each other, everything’s coming together offensively and our defense, too.”
The Colonials are now riding a four-game win streak heading into the rest of conference play.
The Colonials started the day off strong, defeating La Salle in a 23–9 blowout to open GW’s doubleheader Saturday.
GW won both of its previous contests against La Salle this season by double digits, setting the stage for Saturday’s offensive outburst. Eleven Colonials in total contributed to the final score.
Senior goalkeeper Matt Taylor made his first start of the season after injuring his left hand earlier in the year and collected 17 total saves throughout the game.
The team came out of the gate and picked up 12 goals in the first frame alone. Mavis and Kerwin each notched three goals apiece heading into the halftime break, helping the Colonials take a commanding 12–2 lead. Senior utility player Zach Slaughter capped off the dominant first half, sneaking in a goal as the clock wound down in the second quarter.
Leading goal scorer junior center Atakan Destici collected the second-most goals in the game, scoring two first-half goals and another in the third quarter to contribute to the win.
Two minutes into the second half, the game’s three leading scorers – Mavis, Kerwin and Destici – were substituted out and the offensive attack was handed off to the younger members of the team.
The Colonials failed to score for the next 5:04, but freshman attack Josh Yardley broke the drought with a goal to end the third quarter. A more evenly matched third quarter saw each team score four goals after the Colonials outscored the Explorers 6–1 in each of the first two quarters.
Five rookies recorded a goal in the final part of the game. Freshman attack Finn Lillis scored twice in the period, while Yardley picked up his second goal to continue the attack.
Before Saturday, No. 15 Bucknell had only lost one game and had come out on top in four of its last five matchups against the Colonials. But GW was looking to break through and capture what has been an elusive second win against a ranked opponent this season.
Since defeating No. 20 Wagner in the season opener, all four of GW’s losses this season have come against previous top-20 opponents. The total margin of defeat in those four losses was just eight goals – indicating that the Colonials were competitive in every game they played against top competition.
On Saturday afternoon, that breakthrough finally came for the Colonials in a convincing 20–9 victory over the Bison in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
“I don’t think in their wildest imagination they expected to beat a team like Bucknell by 11 goals,” head coach Barry King said. “But I do think it’s their expectation to compete the way that they did today. I think this win is wholly beneficial because we played pretty well and it’s sustainable – it’s not a one-off.”
GW got off to a strong start defensively, holding the Bison scoreless for the first five minutes while Destici, Mavis and sophomore utility player Andras Levai each found the back of the net once to propel the home team to an early 3–0 lead. From there, Kerwin took over, netting three consecutive goals to end the first period with the Colonials hanging on to a 6–3 lead.
Kerwin then passed the baton to Mavis, who went on to score the first three goals of the second quarter for GW. Senior goalkeeper Austin Pyrch excelled in the cage, making several highlight-reel stops in the second quarter.
Behind a strong effort on both ends, the Colonials saw their lead grow to eight goals in the final minute of the first half. A late goal by Bucknell junior attacker Rade Joksimovic with 20 seconds remaining broke a three-minute scoring drought for the visitors and cut GW’s lead 13–7.
Mavis and Kerwin each collected five first-half goals as the duo combined for 10 of the squad’s 13 points.
Mavis got the scoring started again with his sixth goal coming with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter. From there, Destici hit back-to-back shots in what was a physical quarter. The Colonials won the third quarter by a 5–3 margin in front of their home crowd.
“I love this pool, playing with this crowd, and it’s electrifying, because they have our backs no matter what if we’re down,” Kerwin said. “We can count on them every time we score and it’s always fun to play here.”
The defenses dominated in the opening three minutes of the final quarter. The first goal for either side came at the 4:31 mark, opening up a 19–9 lead for GW. With Bucknell struggling to generate offense, all it took was one goal for both sides to pull their starters and empty their benches.
Mavis finished with seven goals on the afternoon, repeating his seven-goal effort from Friday night. Kerwin added on five goals of his own, while Destici had three to round out the effort.
The Colonials will be back in action next Sunday in a rematch against Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa. Swim off is scheduled for noon.