Your Guide to GW sports

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

In its non-conference finale against crosstown-rival Georgetown Tuesday, the softball team fell to the Hoyas by a slim margin, 5-4.

The loss was all too familiar for the Colonials who had the production of their offense overshadowed by defensive errors and pitching woes.

“We had quite a few strikeouts, but they were all solid at bats where they fought deep into the count,” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “Our offense has always been our strength and its unfortunate we didn’t produce today, but it was also one of those days where four runs should have been enough.”

Then freshman Victoria Valos steps up to bat in a GW home game. Hatchet File Photo.

Then freshman Victoria Valos steps up to bat in a GW home game. Hatchet File Photo.

Following two convincing strikeouts by sophomore starting pitcher Meghan Rico, the Hoyas struck first in the bottom of the first after a walk and ensuing triple to right center field. But Rico was able to get out of the inning, leaving room for the Colonials to retaliate.

Junior Victoria Valos reached base on a walk to begin the second inning, with hits from freshmen Jillian Galich and Paige Kovalsky later bringing Valos home to tie the game.

Rico followed with a one-two-three bottom of the second inning to set up the Colonials for a big third. Freshman Marissa Mangini sparked the offense with a lead-off single, followed by a walk from sophomore Morgan Matetic.

In her second at bat of the game, Valos drove both base runners in on the first pitch, blasting a three-run home run to right field. The home run, Valos’ 27th career shot, broke the all-time program record previously set by Jackie Yaniga in 2008.

Despite Valos’ three-run boost, the Colonials allowed Georgetown to get right back in the game. In the bottom of the third, Rico allowed a double, hit a batter, surrendered a walk and then gave up another single that led to three more runs for the Hoyas.

 After two innings of solid work, the bottom of the sixth caused more problems for Rico. Another walk and a sacrifice bunt put the winning run in scoring position, with a single to left center bringing home the eventual winning run.

“It really does feel like I’ve seen this movie before. All of a sudden you see the same things happen. I really don’t know how many times we’ve went up by a few runs and then let the lead off get on in the next inning,” Schramm said. “It’s really frustrating because our pitchers should really feel very confident with a little cushion, but its kind of the opposite.”

The Colonials had a shot in the top of the seventh to tie it up after getting sophomore Bradleigh Breland in scoring position. After freshman Megan Linn hit a single up the middle, Breland was signaled home, but got called out at the plate on a great throw by the Georgetown center-fielder.

Schramm said after the game that she had no regrets about the call because Breland is one of the faster runners on the team. She said Breland hesitated to see if the ball was down, a move that could have made a difference.

Eventually, Matetic struck out for the game’s final out, handing the Colonials their 27th loss of the season.

“It was a step in the right direction” Schramm said. “If they play like this this weekend there’s going to be some good outcomes because they were solid and the whole demeanor and energy of the team was solid. It’s a lot to build off of, and I know there are only six games left, but I don’t care.”

The Colonials resume conference play at home this Friday against St. Louis at 3 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza

After overpowering the Atlantic 10 conference with a near perfect run to its third championship in four years, the men’s tennis team is gaining more national attention.

Continuing their season-long rankings ascent, the Colonials improved five spots to No. 52  in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s men’s national team rankings. GW (17-6) held the No. 57 spot prior to tournament play.

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Over the weekend, the Colonials swept both Dayton, 4-0, and Richmond, 4-0, to set up a finals rematch against No. 50 VCU, who robbed GW of a championship three-peat last season.

After coming down to the seventh and final match in last year’s final, the Colonials were unexpectedly dominant Sunday, defeating the Rams 4-1 – winning all four points in singles matches – to hoist the A-10 championship trophy in Charlottesville.

Though Tuesday’s ranking was the team’s best ranking of the season, it was a limited jump considering the team has gone an impressive 9-1 since breaking the top 60 on March 18.

VCU, the only other A-10 school with a top-100 ranking, remained at the No. 50 position, despite the championship loss.

In addition to the tepid team ranking, the No. 1 doubles duo of freshman Julius Tverijonas and junior Francisco Dias dropped dramatically from No. 62 last week to No. 83 Tuesday – despite solid performances over the weekend.

The duo had play suspended against Dayton in the quarterfinals due to early wins from GW’s No. 2 and No. 3 pairs, but in the semifinals against Richmond, Tverijonas and Dias defeated Ethan and Jacob Dunbar, 8-3. Against VCU in the finals, the duo fell in a heartbreaking tiebreaker to the No. 38 ranked pairing of Alexis Heugas and Nick Jones, 8-7 (10).

With just over two weeks left before the NCAA Regionals tournament on May 9, the Colonials will look to put these mixed accolades on the back-burner as they continue their pursuit of the program’s first NCAA Regionals win.

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Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW's win in the A-10 quarterfinals. The Colonials will look for repeated success against next season's competition. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW’s win in the A-10 quarterfinals. The Colonials will look to compete against a strong non-conference schedule before conference play begins next season . Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti

The men’s basketball team has added more pieces to its 2014-2015 non-conference schedule, reportedly set to play against Rutgers, Seton Hall and Depaul, according to CBS analyst Jon Rothstein.

The report comes on the heels of GW’s home-and-home series deal with the University of Virgina, with the Colonials set to face the Cavaliers on the road next season.

With the exception of Depaul, games against Rutgers and Seton Hall will also be played on the road.

GW will also take on a handful of teams over winter break at the Diamondhead Classic in Honolulu. Teams participating in the holiday tournament from Dec. 22-25 include the University of Colorado, Nebraska, Loyola Marymount, Ohio, Hawaii and former NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed Wichita State.

Rutgers, of the American Athletic Conference, finished at just 12-21 last season. The Colonials defeated the Scarlet Knights 93-87 on Dec. 4 at the Smith Center.

The Colonials will get a look at a pair of Big East teams in Seton Hall and DePaul. The Pirates will be coming off a 17-17 season in which they upset a top-seeded Villanova team in the Big East Championship quarterfinals.

The Pirates’ 2014 recruiting class is being heralded as one of the nations best – ranked No. 12 by ESPN, while featuring Isaiah Whitehead: the No. 1 overall shooting guard in the class, according to Depending on how the tools come together for Seton Hall, that game could have drastically different implications for the Colonials strength-of-schedule and RPI.

DePaul, who ended the season at the bottom of the Big East standings, finished this past season at 12-21. Fortunately, they freshmen Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton IV coming back in hopes of breakout sophomore seasons, creating a potential trap game for the Colonials. With Garrett proving to be a strong offensive threat and Hamilton emerging as the conference’s top freshman rebounder, the Blue Demons DePaul could be a much stronger team next year.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti

For the first time in over 20 years, the men’s basketball team will play the University of Virginia during the regular season.

Announced Monday by head coach Mike Lonergan, the two teams have agreed to play against each other in a home-and-home deal during out of conference play over the next two seasons.

The Colonials will travel to Charlottesville, Va. next season to face the Cavaliers on Nov. 21. The following season, Virginia will pay a visit to the Smith Center in a matchup scheduled for Nov. 16, 2015.

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk off the court after GW's A-10 Championship loss. They'll need to bring their best next season to take down Virginia. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk off the court after GW’s A-10 Championship loss. They’ll need to bring their best next season to take down Virginia. Hatchet File Photo

The Smith Center has hosted just seven Atlantic Coast Conference opponents since it opened in 1975, the latest being Georgia Tech in 1988.

The addition of Virginia to GW’s non-conference schedule next season will undoubtedly bolster their strength of schedule and marks the team’s second-straight matchup against the previous season’s ACC champions. GW defeated 2013 ACC champion Miami in the Wooden Legacy Tournament last November

“Our goal is to play a schedule that is challenging and puts us in a position for a berth to the NCAA Tournament every season,” Lonergan said in a press release. “It’s going to be an exciting regional rivalry for our players, students, alumni and fans.”

The two programs have not faced each other in the regular season since 1984, with the most recent matchup being a 79-66 Virginia win in the first round of the 2004 NIT. History puts the Colonials and Cavaliers relatively on par, with GW having taken 23 out of 48 matchups between the two schools.

Virginia, like GW, is coming off a banner year in which it won both the ACC regular season title and championship title – the first time since 1976. Virginia made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Cavaliers have been ranked as high as No. 7 ESPN’s early preseason poll for 2014-2015, meaning it will be a tough test even for a GW team that equaled its second-most wins – 24 – in program history last year and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The deal shows the growing respect the Atlantic-10 conference is gaining after sending six teams to the big dance this past season. The conference has had its fair share of skeptics in recent months. In March, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made headlines when he said that the A-10 was getting more credit than it deserved, adding that the competition within the A-10 was weaker than the ACC.

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Monday, April 21, 2014 1:39 a.m.

Audio slideshow: Dog days at Barcroft Park

How can you make America’s pastime ever better? Invite man’s best friend to the park.

The Colonials took down visiting UMass 3-2 on Saturday at the first Bark at Barcroft, where man fans enjoyed the game from the stands with their dogs.

Watch the audio slideshow for the sights and sounds (including barks) of the game.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014 10:26 p.m.

Baseball takes UMass series on late inning walk-off

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon

After Friday’s loss against Massachusetts, in which the baseball team blew a three-run lead and ruined a strong start from senior Aaron Weisberg, head coach Gregg Ritchie remained optimistic for the final two games of an important series.

“I told the guys, ‘Hey, the game throws some mad twists at you man. It comes at you at different angles and sometimes it’s like ooh, you can’t even believe that happened,’” Ritchie said.

On Saturday, the Colonials came out and shut down the Minutemen in a 3-1 win, scoring all three runs in the eighth inning.

Sunday, GW fully redeemed its Friday meltdown, beating UMass on a walk-off single by senior Owen Beightol – part of a three-run ninth inning – to take the series. The win marked the team’s second-straight Atlantic 10 series win.

The Colonials discuss strategy in Saturday's game against UMass | Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet staff photographer

The Colonials discuss strategy in Saturday’s game against UMass | Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet staff photographer

Confidence grew throughout the weekend series, but on Easter Sunday – in front of a packed crowd – it looked like the Colonials were going to lay an egg.

GW had a 2-0 lead after three innings thanks to a towering shot from junior Ryan Xepoleas that hit the right-center field scoreboard.

But the Minutemen started to creep back into the game, as sophomore Bobby LeWarne gave up four unanswered runs: two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth. By the top of the sevenths, UMass had jumped ahead of GW 4-2.

With the offense unable to string together consecutive hits and score runs late in the game, Ritchie described the dugout feeling as a “lull,” adding that it felt “almost like deflation.” The second-year head coach tried talking to his ballclub in an effort to remind his players to settle down and have fun playing the game.

“I said, ‘Hey look, the game throws some funny twists at you. It’s going to be the team that stays the most mentally tough down the stretch,’” Ritchie said. “‘What I want you to do, come hell or high water, no matter how this game ends, that the self pity stops and the focus and the fun of playing the finish to this game begins.’”

In the ninth, every member of the team played their part to spark a rally. Players hung over the railing at the top step of the dugout to heckle the UMass pitcher. At the plate, patient hitters were told to take pitches until their counts drew two strikes, helping to load the bases and eventually walk in one run with one out.

The only player without the take sign, however, was freshman Bobby Campbell.

The young third baseman had been working all week, preparing for the breaking ball opposing teams once threw to get ahead of him in the count. With the count at 3-1 in Campbell’s ninth-inning at-bat, the right-hander slammed a breaking ball into left field, scoring the game-tying run.

Following Campbell was Beightol: GW’s cleanup hitter. Beightol fell behind in the count early 0-2, but eventually worked the count even and lined the next pitch right to the third baseman.

“I knew I hit it really hard but I hit it right to him, so I thought it was going to be a double play,” Beightol said. “But then when it hit him in the chest I knew we were going to win.”

The winning run came across and the team mobbed Beightol over at first base to celebrate the win – and more importantly – the chance to be back in the mix for a playoff hunt.

Series Recap:

Friday saw a 4-1 GW lead squandered to a 5-4 loss, under an uncharacteristic blown save by senior Colin Milon. Molin, who received the Warren Fulton award before Sunday’s game, gave up three runs and was tagged with the loss. Weisberg, who started Friday’s game, finished with a line of 7.1 innings, five strikeouts and three earned runs on 10 hits. Beightol led the Colonials going 3-4 at the plate with two runs scored. Freshman Kevin Mahala drove in two runs on the day.

Saturday, the Colonials rebounded with a 3-1 win. Sophomore Jacob Williams earned his fourth win of the season, throwing eight innings, while allowing two runs on eight hits. He was efficient with 95 pitches, one strikeout and two walks. Campbell came up with the big hit in the eighth to score two of his fellow freshman teammates, Joey Bartosic and Maahla.

In Sunday’s 5-4 win, LeWarne didn’t have his best stuff, but worked through 5.1 innings. He gave up 11 hits and allowed four runs on 93 pitches. LeWarne’s toughest stretch came in the fourth inning when he gave up two runs and was hit with a come-backer on the heel of his glove hand.

“My change up wasn’t on today but [I] just [just kept] battling,” LeWarne said. “As long as you’re in the zone it usually works out. I’m just glad Eddie [Muhl] saved my ass and got a ‘W’ for us.”

Muhl came in and finished the game, earning both the win and recognition from his coach, who said it was a “big moment of growth.”

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Courtney Martin pitching against an opponent last season. | Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Hatchet Photographer

Then junior Courtney Martin pitching against an opponent last season. | Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhaur

Saint Joseph’s overpowered GW on Saturday in crucial conference games, including a no-hitter.

After splitting a double-header against Hampton earlier this week, the women’s softball team resumed conference play Saturday at Saint Joseph’s where an overpowered GW team dropped both games by the scores of 11-0 and 7-5.

Saint Joseph’s sophomore pitcher Liz Mendez tossed a no-hitter against the Colonials in the day’s first game in which the Hawks won 11-0 in five innings.

Senior Courtney Martin started opposite Mendez in game one, a rare sight as of late because sophomore Meghan Rico and freshman Paige Kovalsky have combined to start the last 10 games for GW. While Martin started out strong in the first inning, the right-hander began to lose her edge early in the second.

“[Martin] started out well” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “Her change-up was working and I thought, alright this is exactly where we want to be. But as soon as she had one walk, all of a sudden it was kind of like all of the jitters came back.”

After allowing three runs in the second inning, Martin proceeded to give up a double and two walks that would eventually lead to a Saint Joseph’s grand slam. Rico and freshman Paige Kovalsky would both enter the game in relief, but the Hawks’ offense had already done the damage.

Mendez, who delivered a lights-out performance for Saint Joseph’s, struck out four GW batters and while only walking one, to carry her team to the 11-0 shutout.

The Colonials bats started to wake up in Saturday’s second game, beginning with sophomore Morgan Matetic, who belted a two-run homer to left field in the first inning to give GW an early lead.

But Saint Joseph’s managed to respond in a big way in the bottom half of the inning, scoring five runs against Rico on seven hits.

With two outs in the second inning and runners on first and third, a pair of steals by the Hawks led to another run scored, and highlighted GW’s defensive struggles all season.

“There is almost a sense sometimes where it’s like ‘well what’s one more run anyway’ but in reality it’s a lot,” Schramm said. “I mean it came down to the end where we were down by two. So we really just need to get in a more stingy mindset and not give away so many runs.”

RBIs by Matetic, junior Victoria Valos and freshman Marissa Mangini in the game’s closing innings would not be enough, as the Colonials would drop the game 7-5. The loss brings the Colonials to 2-8 in conference play, and hurt their chances of reaching the Atlantic 10 tournament in May.

“[The team] is just as, if not more frustrated, as I am at this point,” Schramm said. “We’re all in this together. There is no finger pointing and we are all trying to find a solution and try different things. Hopefully we can manage to turn things around and end things on a good note.

GW will play its next game April 22 in a non-conference matchup at Georgetown at 7 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

The women’s tennis team defeated George Mason by the score of 6-1 Sunday, capping off the regular season and Senior Day with a celebration.

Leah Pascarella serves at a match on the Mount Vernon Campus last season. Hatchet File Photo

Leah Pascarella serves at a match on the Mount Vernon Campus last season. Hatchet File Photo

Senior Leah Pascarella paced the Colonials, who along with sophomore Christina Carpenter, secured an 8-3 doubles win to help the Colonials take the doubles point. She then went on to a seamless singles victory 6-0, 6-0, bringing her singles record 16-8 on the year and 10-3 in the spring.

“It feels great to have a senior day like this,” Pascarella said after the match. “I couldn’t have asked for much more.”

Also graduating was senior Isabella Escobar, who suffered a somewhat less satisfying afternoon, being defeated in singles 7-6, 6-4 and losing in doubles with freshman partner Taylor Nederlander, 8-4. The singles loss ends her regular season record at 2-7.

“It’s unfortunate that I didn’t win but I thought I fought hard,” Escobar said. “But still, GW has given me an amazing experience.”

Sophomore Lana Robins (6-1, 6-0), Nederlander (7-6, 6-3), sophomore Egle Jakuciunaite (6-2, 6-0) and Carpenter (6-1, 6-0) all won their singles matches in straight sets. The doubles duo of Robins and freshman Allison Hansen added the second GW doubles win, 8-3, giving the Colonials the early 1-0 lead.
Robins ended her season leading the team in singles victories, finishing with a record of 17-9.

The win brings the team’s overall record to 8-5, 5-2 in the conference. With the regular season now over, the team switches its view to the Atlantic 10 Championship in Mason, Ohio, set to begin Thursday, April 24. The Colonials will learn their tournament seeding tomorrow after all weekend matches conclude.

“I think we’re ready,” assistant coach Anthony Lee said. “We can always improve on things but we just need to compete and give 110 percent and we’ll do well.”

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Senior Nikita Fomin hits a serve during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Nikita Fomin hits a serve during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

The men’s tennis team is headed to the Atlantic-10 Championships final for the fifth-straight year after beating Richmond 4-0 Saturday.

In doubles play, the duo of senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov gave up just one set to Richmond’s Alex Hahn and Canyon Teague. Fomin and Zelenkov would win the matchup handedly 8-1.

Following Fomin and Zelenkov, the No. 62 ranked team in the nation of junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julius Tverijonas comfortably clinched the doubles point after winning their matchup 8-3.

In singles play, senior Ulrik Thomsen defeated his opponents in straight sets (6-2, 6-0), tallying an additional team point for the Colonials. The team found its last two points to clinch the match from the same pair that led the Colonials in doubles play, Zelenkov and Fomin.

At the No. 3 slot, Zelenkov won in a near-perfect performance (6-1, 6-0), followed closely by Fomin at the No. 2 slot who defeated his opponent in straight sets (6-2, 6-4).

Through the tournament’s two matches, GW has not surrendered a single team point to their opponents. The win Saturday also keeps the Colonials undefeated in conference play at 5-0.

The Colonials will face No. 2 seeded VCU in the A-10 Championships final for the second straight year tomorrow at 10 a.m. In last season’s final, GW fell to the Rams 4-3.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti

The women’s basketball team added a fifth piece to its highly touted recruiting class, signing Colombian guard Camila Tapias to a National Letter of Intent, the athletics department announced Friday.

Tapias, a 5-foot-6 combo guard and native of Bogotá, is a smooth-stroking lefty with deep range. Tapias led IMG Academy with 14.5 points, 5.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game, while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Tapias, who reportedly had offers from Georgetown, Auburn and San Diego State, will be added to a Colonials backcourt that has major shoes to fill with the graduations of Danni Jackson and Megan Nipe, who left gaps on the perimeter for the Colonials.

“[Tapias] is a talented left-handed player who will be able to score in a variety of ways in our high-scoring offense,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said in a release. “With the graduation of [Jackson and Nipe], we are excited to add Cami to our talented core of perimeter players that will make up the 2014-15 roster.”

Tapias also has experience in the international circuit. She was the second best scorer in the world at the 2012 FIBA Americas Championships and led the Columbian U-18 National Team by averaging 15.0 points and three three-point field goals per game.

Tapias joins guards Brianna Cummings and Mia Farmer as well as post players Jada Matthews and Kelli Prange, who all signed letters of intent during the early signing period last November. The quartet had already been ranked as the Atlantic 10’s top recruiting class and the No. 41 recruiting class in the nation by Blue Star Report, prior to the addition of Tapias.

“[Tapias'] addition to our 2014 class gives us the ability to score the basketball from all over the floor,” Tsipis said. “[Tapias] joins [Matthews, Farmer, Prange and Cummings] as players who have been successful at a high level, and we are excited to coach them for the next four years.”

The new additions will join a Colonials squad that finished last season 23-11, a nine-win improvement from a year ago.

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