Men’s water polo ends season with a third-place finish

Media Credit: File Photo by Kimberly Courtney | Photographer

The Colonials previously beat Johns Hopkins 23-8 and 16-11, but the conference championship was the first time they fell to Bucknell University this season after beating them Oct. 1 with 11-8 and a narrow win against them Oct. 8 with 12-11 that earned them bronze in the championship.

The Colonials lost to Bucknell 5-7 in the semifinal on Nov. 19 after facing a mostly scoreless third quarter that gave Bison the 3-point lead they needed to ensure the win, but held onto their No. 20 rank in the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference’s regular season that ended on Nov. 5.

The team also had a 15-game winning streak, which they previously achieved in 2019 after averaging 449 goals overall with a .489 attacking percentage that led them to dominate their opponents. Graduate student center Theodoros Pateros said the regular season’s winning streak contributed to good morale and efforts through the season that continued to push players in the pool and feel as if they were creating a legacy for their season.

“I think our biggest achievement as a team was that 15-game winning streak that we had, in a sense, wrote history for the program,” Pateros said in an interview Friday. “We did something that has never been done before, so I think that 15-game winning streak is far more important than any other individual records or awards that I might have received.”

The Colonials previously beat Johns Hopkins 23-8 and 16-11, but the conference championship was the first time they fell to Bucknell University this season after beating them 11-8 Oct. 1 and a narrow 12-11 win against them Oct. 8 that earned them bronze in the championship.

Pateros said championship play is more difficult than the regular season since the stakes are higher and the team is forced to rely on group skill rather than individual talent since championship play requires a more complex degree of play. He said Bucknell scouted GW’s offensive skills and were able to adjust to the Colonials’ playing style for the championship.

“With the championship, the games are a lot different from the full season,” Pateros said. “We had games that were tougher against Bucknell, especially. Overall, it doesn’t come down to individual performance. It’s a matter of like, how well the team is going to perform as a whole.”

Pateros was named to the MAWPC first team and junior goalie Luca Castorina and utility player and graduate student Nick Schroeder were named to the MAWPC second team last month. Castorina’s save percentage through the season averaged a .505 percent and contributed with 26 assists, compared to Bucknell’s Adrien Touzot with a save percentage of .541 percent. Schroeder collected 55 assists through the season, the highest among his teammates, alongside 50 goals this season.

Pateros was named to the MAWPC first team after leading the team with 120 goals throughout the season. He held 51 exclusions or penalties drawn and the highest shot percentage of .566 percent in the team.

“There’s a handful of players that get to be on the first team so to be recognized by the other coaches, it means a lot,” Pateros said. “I’ve been working hard for the past few years to be able to be in a position when I can receive an award and help my team as much as I can, so it’s nice to see that your efforts are rewarded.”

Pateros who was also named to the Cutino Award Watch List, an award that recognizes the best player in men’s and women’s water polo, also said he is looking forward to underclassmen like Castorian to step up to fill the roles of the three departing team members and for rising seniors to lead the team and mentor a younger squad for the next season.

“It’s going to be very interesting because our team had a lot of seniors and graduate students that are departing this team,” Pateros said. “So it’s going to be a very big opportunity for all those younger players to come in and show what they can bring to the team, and I have confidence in them. I think they’re going to do great.”

Junior center Viktor Jovanovic, who contributed with 42 goals this season and drew 23 exclusions against opponents, said he hopes to instill confidence in younger teammates’ abilities next year as a senior as the team will no longer have as many graduate students to step up like past years. He said he hopes to use this season’s biggest lesson of adapting to play with new players and learning to play together as a team to solidify his leadership role.

“Something that I hope to implement is just being more of a leader,” Jovanovic said. “We’ve had a lot of grad students and seniors in the past couple years, and I haven’t really been able to step up as a leader. But now as one of the seniors I want to show more of my leadership toward the younger players and help them be confident in the water.”

Jovanovic, who held the third-best shooting percentage on the team at .519, said the team needs to continue to practice through the off-season and to bond as a team in order to be successful next season by improving their swimming to maintain a competitive edge.

“Something that we have to improve on, inside the pool, is probably our swimming, just staying in shape and doing what we can to not lose everything we worked for this season,” Jovanovic said. “And then out of the water, just staying as a team and having team events and team bonding and staying connected as a whole.”

Jovanovic said learning how to play as a team and with six new players was a challenge and brought them closer as they learned to navigate a new team dynamic and energy to bolster their play into the 15-game streak.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.