WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The George Washington women's water polo team opens play for the 2011 season this weekend with four games - two against nationally ranked opponents - at the Princeton Invitational.
The Colonials open the season against host No. 18 Princeton Saturday at 1:00 pm, then battle Colorado State at 5:30 pm. GW begins Sunday play against No. 19 Pacific at 10:30 am, before completing play at the event against Villanova at 2:45 pm. All games will be played at Princeton's DeNunzio Pool.
2011 GW Women's Water Polo Season Preview
The George Washington women's water polo program will play in the newly realigned Southern Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) this spring. The minor change from three divisions to a pair of six-team divisions means two significant things for the Colonials: additional home games and an automatic bid to the league's Eastern Championship for a shot at a berth in the NCAA Final Four.
While the path to an NCAA trip is difficult with national powers like Michigan, Indiana, Hartwick and Princeton in the East, GW head coach Scott Reed will take the opportunity to play for the elusive bid to "prepare the team to compete at a higher level."
"We have a young team with seven fresh, new faces who will be balanced out by our eight upperclassmen," said Reed. "We had a great offseason and I think this team will be one of the most balanced during my 12 seasons at GW."
The Colonials return eight letterwinners from last season's 7-17 team, led by two-time CWPA First Team All-South honoree Allison Peotter. The junior attacker has paced GW in assists, steals and swim-offs in each of her first two seasons and already ranks prominently on the program's career assists (68), goals (79) and points (147) lists.
While Peotter will be looked upon to shoulder much of the scoring burden vacated by First Team All-South attack teammate Marissa Stamler, who graduated last spring, Reed will count on a "group effort" to replace the fourth-leading scorer in program history.
Returning to join Peotter in the attack are senior Erin Delker, junior Monica Hanson and sophomore Jessie Hurd, while senior Melissa Sesana and junior Megan Walker will provide their offense at center. The hard-shooting Walker tied Peotter for second on the team with 30 goals last season, while Hanson provided 18 goals and 16 assists.
Freshmen Rachael Bentley, Megan Brolley and Erin Dickson will also be expected to contribute to the attack. Brolley earned Second Team NISCA All-America honors in 2009 at Saint Andrew's School in south Florida.
Reed will use freshmen Allison Littlejohn and Adina Zepfel at a variety of positions as utility players. Littlejohn earned Second Team All-State honors at Saline High in Michigan, while Zepfel comes from the same Corona del Mar High program in California that produced Peotter.
The defense will be anchored by senior goalkeeper Charlotte Schou, who enters her final season just 170 blocks shy of breaking Julie Jacoby's ('08) program record of 738. Junior Antonia Raris will back up Schou and could see increased time between the pipes to prepare for her role as incumbent netminder in 2012.
Rookies Katherine Berry and Kayley Marshall will compete for and share duties at center defense. Berry and fellow freshman Bentley helped Riverside Poly High to back-to-back CIF Southern California Division 3 championships, while Marshall left Northern California's Whitney High as the school's all-time steals leader.
The Colonials will join Brown University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland, Princeton University and Salem International University in the CWPA's Southern Division, with Bucknell University, Gannon University, Hartwick College, Indiana University, Mercyhurst College and the University of Michigan comprising the Western Division.
GW will also benefit from five home games at Charles E. Smith Center, now in its second season after undergoing a $43 million transformation renovation.
Release courtesy George Washington Athletic Communications