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Men’s water polo splits pair of home games, defeats No. 14 Bucknell on the road

Connor Witschonke | Staff Photographer
Senior utility player Atakan Destici passes the ball during Saturday’s game against Fordham.

Men’s water polo recorded two wins and a loss in its final trio of games to close out the regular season.

The Colonials (20-8, 9-3) fell to Fordham in a tightly contested 14–13 game Saturday, but bounced back against Wagner, earning a 24–15 win to close out the doubleheader. GW made the trip to Bucknell Sunday to close out its regular season, nabbing a close 11–10 win.

After two historic seasons that saw the team win consecutive Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference Championships in 2017 and 2018, the Colonials came into the 2019 season facing tougher division play than they’ve seen in previous years.

Coming into the weekend, the Colonials were locked in a tight division race for this year’s MAWPC title. GW and Bucknell are vying for the top-two standings, each ranking with 18 points. Fordham lies closely behind with 16 points.

Game 1

After a contentious and high-energy battle against Fordham (21-5, 8-2) to start the day, the Colonials ultimately dropped a 14–13 nailbiter that came down to the game’s final minutes.

In front of a packed crowd to start the day, the team introduced its four seniors and unveiled its 2018 MAWPC Championship banner, setting the tone for the game to come.

Head coach Barry King, who received a red card last weekend, was forced to watch the game from the sidelines as Chris Hennelly, the associate athletic director of student-athlete health, well-being and performance, took over the team’s coaching responsibilities.

Both teams came out of the gate with strong defensive performances, as the Colonials limited Fordham to just two goals in the first quarter. Meanwhile, senior center Andrew Mavis, who notched seven total goals in the game, put the Colonials on the board with a goal late in the quarter.

Going into the second quarter, the Colonials allowed a quick goal after just a minute of play, but answered right back as Mavis scored again off an assist from senior utility player Atakan Destici. Mid-way through the second, Destici delivered another assist to junior utility player and team goal-leader Andras Levai, who managed to knot the game up at three goals apiece.

A pair of goals by sophomore utility player DJ Davis and another score by Mavis closed out the quarter for the Colonials, who headed into the fourth facing an 11–8 Rams lead.

Looking to fuel the team’s momentum, junior center Gabriele Simonti started the Colonials off with a goal just over a minute into the fourth quarter. After a quick timeout, an electrified Mavis netted his seventh and final goal of the afternoon to bring the Colonials within one of the Rams.

Seizing on the momentum shift, Destici tied the game at 11 with less than four minutes in the quarter, and another goal soon after by Davis gave the Colonials a 12–11 lead, their first of the afternoon.

A quick score by the Rams to tie the game at 12 led to another score by Levai, but the one point lead wasn’t enough, as the Rams stormed back with two more goals to take a 14–13 lead and win the game.

Game 2

In their second game of the day, the Colonials comfortably beat Wagner (6-22, 4-8) 24–15 for the second time this season.

Six players scored for GW, but the senior duo of Destici and Mavis were in full force again. The pair notched a combined 16 goals. Destici scored a career-high nine goals against the Seahawks to boost his season total to 27.

Destici also led the team in the assist category, racking up five helpers. Levai followed close behind with four assists. He also notched two goals against the Seahawks. Along with his seven goals, Mavis drew a team-leading three ejections throughout the contest.

The Colonials fell behind in the first quarter, trailing Wagner by two goals, but the team regrouped and outscored the Seahawks in the three remaining frames.

Making up for lost ground in the second quarter, GW stifled Wagner’s scoring attempts and held them to just two goals. GW netted six to take an 11–9 lead at the half.

With their foot on the gas, the Colonials notched nine more goals in the third quarter, its highest scoring frame of the game. The Seahawks netted four more goals too, but they were still trailing GW, who’s lead now extended to seven.

To secure the win, GW added four more between the pipes, winning the contest 24–15.

Game 3

The Colonials wrapped up their regular season on the road at No. 14 Bucknell, where the team earned the 11–10 upset.

Five players found the back of the net in the contest, with Destici and sophomore utility player Nick Schroeder each scoring three goals to propel the team to victory. Mavis and Levai both notched two goals apiece and senior center Jordan Blosser put one between the frames.

GW jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, scoring four goals and holding Bucknell to just one. The Bison returned the favor in the second frame, holding GW to just one goal and scoring three of their own.

But the Colonials held the narrow advantage at the half, leading Bucknell 5–4.

In the third quarter, the Bison evened the score, netting four goals to the Colonials’ three. With one quarter remaining, the game was tied 8–8.

The squad pushed onward in the fourth quarter and narrowly outpaced Bucknell. The Bison scored two goals, but couldn’t suppress GW, who notched three goals to take the game 11–10.

The Colonials are back in action Nov. 22 in the first game of the MAWPC Championship.

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