2018-19 year in review: Teams clinch titles, some falter in A-10 play

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Senior Staff Photographer

Softball became A-10 co-champions with Fordham after rain led to the cancellation of the deciding game.

Looking back at the 2018-19 season, 10 of 14 programs with win-loss records underperformed compared to last season’s marks.

Two of eight women’s teams saw improved overall records, two squads maintained the same number of wins and five teams saw improved conference records. Of the six teams on the men’s side, two teams saw improved overall records and two teams upped their conference records.

Here’s a review of the 2018-19 season and a look into what next season has to offer:

Disappointment lingers
Four programs fell short of expectations set by their performance during the 2017-18 season.

Women’s basketball missed gaining its fourth Atlantic 10 Championship in five years. Despite being picked in preseason polls to take third in the conference, the Colonials exited the A-10 tournament early as the No. 9 seed – the team’s lowest ranking in seven years. The squad combined 10 wins on the season, the lowest since the 2010-11 season when the team won eight games.

Men’s soccer did not qualify for the A-10 tournament this year after making it to the quarterfinals during the 2017-18 season. The squad put up a 1–5–2 conference record with three games going into overtime and scored more than two goals in only one game. The team paced its worst record since 2010, when the squad went 4–15–1.

Volleyball made it to the semifinals of the A-10 Championship in 2017 but failed to qualify for the tournament in 2018. The squad opened A-10 play with a 3–0 win over Saint Louis but dropped the next two 3–1 before beating Rhode Island 3–0 and evening its conference record to 2–2. The team went on an eight-game skid, losing nearly every game in October and finding itself unable to fully bounce back.

Baseball whipped up another 30-win season under head coach Gregg Ritchie, but the team laid just outside the A-10 tournament bubble at No. 9. Inconsistent and injured pitching plagued the team all year, but the return of junior right-handed pitcher Elliott Raimo gave the team options heading into the final stretch of the season. The team ranked top five in the A-10 in on-base percentage, runs batted in, batting average, slugging percentage and hits, but it struggled against conference foes and went 11-13 on the year.

Programs repeat championships
Men’s squash, men’s swimming and diving and men’s water polo repeated their championship feats, and softball joined the mix this season for the first time in program history.

Men’s squash captured its second consecutive Hoehn Cup. After a season of constant ladder changes, the team shifted its goals from moving into the A Division, which houses the top eight teams, and focused on reclaiming the B Division. The team avenged an early-season loss to Western Ontario in the tournament and cruised past St. Lawrence and Drexel to capture the B Division crown again.

In head coach Brian Thomas’ first year, men’s swimming and diving nabbed its third consecutive A-10 Championship. The Colonials cleaned up the competition, winning nine medals, sweeping the 1,650-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle podiums and taking gold in the 400-yard freestyle. Junior Moritz Fath won six gold medals and was named the Most Outstanding Performer while sophomore Peter Nachtwey received a gold and a silver medal before being named the Most Outstanding Diver of the championship.

Men’s water polo won its second consecutive Mid Atlantic Water Polo Conference Championship this year in a 12–11 overtime match against No. 15 Bucknell. The squad downed Princeton 14–13 in another overtime matchup to bag its first NCAA win in program history. After the win and a loss to No. 2 UCLA, the team advanced to 23–7 and became the winningest team in GW history, breaking the 23–10 record held since 1997.

Softball became A-10 co-champions with Fordham after inclement weather led to the cancellation of the deciding game, qualifying the team for its first postseason showing at the National Invitational Softball Championship Liberty Regional. The Colonials’ powerhouse offense propelled them to a program-best 44 wins. The squad, led by junior utility player and A-10 Softball Player of the Year Jenna Cone, junior utility player Jessica Linquist and sophomore utility player Sierra Lange, led the A-10 in runs batted in (67), home runs (20), batting average (.411), stolen bases (25), wins by a pitcher (31) and strikeouts by a pitcher (245).

Returning cores anchor programs
Three teams retain a strong core of returning players who will gain experience for the season ahead.

Lacrosse returns every player but will enter the 2020 season with a new head coach. Former head coach Tracy Coyne resigned after the program raked in the most conference wins in four years but was unable to prevent a three-game skid that kept it from the playoffs. Junior midfielder Katie Quinn and freshman midfielder Tori Hampton led the team with 30 goals apiece. Sophomore goalkeeper Jenna Oler, who started 16 games for the Colonials between the pipes, ranked second in the A-10 with 174 saves.

Women’s water polo ended the season on a four-game losing streak and went 1-5 in conference play this season. But the team returns every player, including high-scoring duo sophomore utility player Alana Ponce and freshman utility player Juliette Belanger. The pair scored 88 of the team’s 174 goals this season and shot 7.7 and 8.5 percent more than the team average, respectively.

In addition to new head coach Jamion Christian, men’s basketball returns seven of its 10 players from the 2018-19 season and will gain junior forward Arnaldo Toro back from injury. Toro started all seven games he played in before his injury and averaged 10.1 points and 9.3 rebounds. The Colonials will lose sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr., freshman guard Shandon Brown and freshman forward Marcus Littles, who all transferred out of the program after former head coach Maurice Joseph was fired. The trio tallied 16.4 percent of the team’s total rebounds and 17.4 percent of its total points.

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