Men’s water polo storms past Austin College

Media Credit: CONNOR WITSCHONKE | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Freshman attacker Henry Maas looks to pass the ball at Friday's match against Austin College. The Colonials beat the Kangaroos 21–5.

Men’s water polo knocked off Austin College in GW’s penultimate nonconference match Friday night at the Smith Center.

The Kangaroos (0–7) – a Division III team in their first season – were no match for the No. 19 Colonials (14–5, 5–2 MAWPC) who stormed to a 21–5 victory.

Junior utility player Atakan Destici led GW with five goals and five assists in a game that saw 10 different players find the back of the net.

With a two-week break in conference play, head coach Barry King said his team has been working hard in practice and on their conditioning to prepare for the final stretch of conference play that begins next weekend.

“They’re a little beat up right now and we’re in this part of the season where we can attend to our fitness a little bit more than we usually would,” King said. “I expected some plays that may not have been made simply out of a certain amount of fatigue. We went pretty hard this week.”

Multiple freshmen saw pool time from the opening minutes of the match, and freshman attack Henry Maas was first to notch a point, scoring his seventh career goal just 17 seconds into the game and kicking off a lead the Colonials never relinquished.

Destici, who leads the team with 53 goals on the season, dominated the first quarter and a half of play with four of GW’s first eight goals.

The Colonials led 8–0 midway through the second quarter, and freshman center Will Koelzer netted the Kangaroos’ first goal with 2:42 left before halftime.

Sophomore center defender Robert Griffin quickly scored again to narrow the Kangaroos’ deficit to six.

But sophomore utility player Andras Levai stifled Austin’s momentum, netting two goals in the final two minutes of the half to give GW a 10–2 lead at the intermission.

“We expected that level of water polo from Austin College, so we came into this game knowing that we’d have to win,” Levai said. “In this game, we were more focusing on actually practicing our own offensive and defensive plays, so we were focusing more on little things.”

Senior goalkeeper Austin Pyrch got the start in the cage and entered the contest with 189 saves to his name and a 54 percent save percentage on the year.

He only saw action in the first half of the game before senior goalkeeper Matt Taylor – who is working his way back from injury – took over in the goal for the second half.

“It’s really nice to split time with him, especially during these home game weekends when we’re not traveling and we’re not in big tournaments,” Pyrch said. “It’s nice to get off my legs and have a little break.”

The Kangaroos found the back of the net just 30 seconds into the second half, but Taylor held it down in the net from there and yielded just three goals in the remainder of the game.

A scoreboard outage with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter briefly paused the action at 13–4, but the Colonials came out firing after the break, scoring five goals to close out the quarter.

An 18–4 advantage heading into the fourth quarter gave the team’s seven freshmen ample playing time in the final two periods. GW ended the night outscoring the Kangaroos 11–3 in the back half of the game.

The Colonials return to action Sunday at 6 p.m. when they take on Connecticut College at home.

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