Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

Fresh off the sting of their first Atlantic 10 loss, the Colonials rebounded with a win against league-leading Dayton in a five-set thriller Saturday night.

By minimizing errors and playing consistently through the game, GW handed the Flyers their first loss of the conference season. After losing their composure in a Friday matchup against Saint Louis, the Colonials entered the Smith Center trying to start fresh, but knowing they had much to prove.

“Today we were really focused on making yesterday a lesson, a learning experience,” said sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu. “So our mentality today was if we change the things that obviously are the things that made us lose yesterday, then we are going to be so much more confident and we are going to win this game.”

Head coach Amanda Ault said there were three keys to the win Saturday: focus, minimizing errors and having momentum. Those factors, absent the night before, helped the team overcome the loss on just one night of rest.

There was a fourth factor in Osuchukwu. She was a powerhouse, boasting a career-high 30 kills and hitting a blistering .474 percentage. Osuchukwu coupled her power with pinpoint accuracy and had only three attack errors on 57 attempts.

“We have a saying that goes for our team. That’s, ‘Work hard for each other,’ and I think today we definitely embodied that motto,” Osuchukwu said. “I think it hit us we can’t win the game individually, we have to work together on every single aspect, and I think that’s what really drove us this time because we knew that once we have that we have the game.”

After holding a lead for most of the first set, which the Colonials won 25-22, GW fought a seesaw battle through 30 ties and 16 lead changes in the middle three sets. The team dropped the second set 25-19 and the third set 25-23 and found themselves staring down their second consecutive loss during two match points for Dayton at the end of the fourth set.

Osuchukwu came through in the clutch with a big kill to save the game the first time at 24-23, and Dayton sent the ball into the net two points later, failing to capitalize on their second match point at 25-24. The Colonials held set point after two attack errors to boost them to a 27-25 victory in the fourth.

The fifth and final set belonged to the Colonials. After an explosion of energy on the court following the win in the fourth set, a vocal bench powered the Colonials as they took the lead early in the fifth set and never lost it. GW stonewalled Dayton, holding the Flyers to a -.091 hitting percentage and collecting off of six attack errors while hitting .211 themselves.

Senior outside hitter Kelsey Newman said the win boiled down to making better adjustments than the Flyers. GW also dominated at the net with 13.0 total team blocks to Dayton’s 9.0.

“I feel like we wanted to just keep pushing the momentum because it was still a dogfight, you know, we weren’t going to let up,” Newman said. “Even if we just kept pushing and kept driving on them then they were going to fall back and we were going to end up winning so we just didn’t let up at all.”

GW will return to action Friday at 7 p.m. as the team takes on Davidson on the road.

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junior setter Jordan Timmer sets the ball in a match against the Puerto Rican National team earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Junior setter Jordan Timmer sets the ball in a match earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist

The volleyball team took the floor Friday night with an opportunity to stay undefeated in conference play by beating one of the conference’s best, Saint Louis.

But the Colonials succumbed to the same song and dance that has plagued them in tight matchups this season: a lack of consistency and unforced errors, which handed GW its first conference loss, 3-1 (8-25, 20-25, 25-17, 24-26).

“I am disappointed in what happened out there, simply because we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity to win the match,” head coach Amanda Ault said.

Saint Louis bested GW in the first set with its strong defense, outperforming the Colonials in digs, block assists and team blocks. The Billikens’ defensive stand and efficient hitting led to a GW attack percentage deficit of .281 to 0.88. The Colonials gave up 10 attack errors on just 34 total attempts in the set.

GW’s slipshod execution carried into the second set, which was marked by miscommunication on the floor. After a rally in the latter part of the set, a Saint Louis attack could not be recovered by the Colonials after three players dove for the ball. Ensuing back-to-back kills by Saint Louis combined with a service and attack error by GW propelled Saint Louis to a 2-0 match lead.

At one point in the game, three GW players tried to go for the same ball and Ault said the players need to improve their communication.

“Our focus got away from us, which led to us questioning what are responsibilities are and what we are supposed to take care of,” Ault said. “We need to do a better job of troubleshooting during the match and figuring out how a player can help her teammates out and how she can make it easier, instead of getting frazzled or frustrated.”

GW appeared to make some adjustments in the third set, which Ault described as a “mentality switch.” The Colonials commanded a lead for the entire set, similar to Saint Louis’ success earlier on. A much more active GW team forced 10 Saint Louis attack errors, outnumbering its nine overall kills.

“It wasn’t a conversation about what we needed to do better,” junior setter Jordan Timmer said. “We need to stay more consistent because when we were playing our game in the third set, they had no chance.”

Timmer finished the match with 44 assists and a match high .400 assist percentage.

GW and Saint Louis went back-and-forth in the match’s fourth set, with neither team able to take more than a three-point lead. The teams tied it up nine times and broke away from each other four times. The set, and ultimately the match, would come down to a 24-24 tie late, but back-to-back points by the Billikens cemented the match win.

Osuchukwu, senior outside hitter Kelsey Newman and sophomore Loren Williams each completed the game with double-digit kills. Osuchukwu led the team with 15 kills, while Newman and Williams followed with 14 and 10, respectively. As the Colonials move on to Saturday’s match against A-10 leader Dayton, Ault said the team needs to be more proactive against top contenders.

“From this point forward, we’ve put ourselves in the position that we’re going to be the hunted,” Ault said.

The Colonials will take on the Flyers on Saturday in the Smith Center at 7 p.m.

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Junior Bogdan Petkovic attempts to toss the ball past a Bucknell defender in a game earlier this season.

Junior Bogdan Petkovic attempts to toss the ball past a Bucknell defender in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Oct. 10, 2014 at 7:38 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

Junior Bogdan Petkovic was named the CWPA Southern Division Player of the Week for the second time this season.

Petkovic recorded 14 steals and two blocks on the defensive end for the Colonials last week. Offensively, Petkovic totaled 12 points on eight goals and four assists through GW’s five weekend games.

He leads the Colonials with 47 steals, 13 blocks, 27 assists and 52 points on the season, and ranks fourth on the team with 25 goals. GW’s all-time leader in blocks (61), also ranks second on the team with 23 ejections drawn.

Petkovic was named defensive player of the week earlier this season on Sept. 15, and is the first male CWPA player ever to win defensive player, Southern Division Rookie of the Week (2012) and Co-Player of the Week (2013) in his career.

Men’s water polo returns to the Smith Center pool Saturday to play Johns Hopkins at 7 p.m.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Petkovic was the first male CWPA player to ever win defensive player of the week. He is actually the first male CWPA player to win all three awards – defensive player, Southern Division Rookie of the Week and Co-Player of the Week. We regret this error.

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Then-junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender for a layup last season. File Photo by Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

Then-junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender for a layup last season. File Photo by Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials will play five televised games during the 2014-15 regular season, with three of those games set to be broadcast nationwide, the athletic department announced Tuesday.

For students looking to plan their class schedules around tip-off, the announcement also included game times for the regular season. Weeknight games will begin at 7 p.m., and weekend games will start at 2 p.m., with the exceptions of games against Grambling State on Monday, Nov. 24 at 12 p.m., A-10 newcomer Davidson on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. and defending A-10 regular season champion Dayton on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 12 p.m.

The Feb. 8 game against Dayton will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network from the Smith Center on Feb. 8. GW will host a nationally televised game for the fourth year in a row as the Flyers seek revenge from an 88-79 upset in Foggy Bottom last season.

The Flyers are players in two of the Colonials nationally televised games: ESPNU will air the A-10 opener between the two teams on Jan. 4. CBSSN will also broadcast GW’s Jan. 18 game at Massachusetts.

Beyond the national placements, GW’s games against local rivals Maryland and Georgetown on Nov. 22 and Dec. 9, respectively, will both air on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. In taking on the Terrapins, GW will host the second Final Four team at the Smith Center in the last two seasons after upsetting the then-No. 10 California Golden Bears last November, and will try to improve on their 87-51 drubbing in College Park last season.

The announcement also included the addition of the Grambling State game to the team’s schedule. It will be the first time the two teams have met.

The Colonials begin play Nov. 9 with an exhibition game against Virginia Union before officially starting the season at Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 14.

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Senior defender Matthew Scott looks to pass the ball past a Saint Peter's player in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Senior defender Matthew Scott looks to pass the ball past a Saint Peter’s player in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Mark Eisenhauer.

Men’s soccer’s offensive woes resumed Sunday in a 4-0 shutout loss to Robert Morris.

The loss marked the fourth time the team has been shut out this season and came days after a 3-2 overtime win. Starting forwards junior Philip McQuitty and sophomore Angel Valencia combined for just one shot on goal.

“In the first half, we played great. We had chances, we were getting into the right spots. But today we didn’t have the quality in the final third,” head coach Craig Jones said. “Either our final pass was off, or when we did create that chance, we didn’t take advantage of it.”

GW (4-5-0) looked like it had control of the game early, after a few good chances in the Robert Morris (5-5-1) half of the field, but the game’s most pivotal moment came in the 21st minute when GW was awarded a penalty kick.

A 1-0 GW lead seemed inevitable, but Valencia’s shot was stopped by the Robert Morris keeper and turned the tide of the match.

“It was a terrible penalty,” Jones said. “If we had gone 1-0 up it would have probably given us the confidence to score more goals because that’s how well we were playing.”

Robert Morris stepped up the pressure following its big save, and despite being outshot 7-2 in the first half, managed to hold GW scoreless going into the second.

In the 52nd minute, Robert Morris star forward Neco Brett was able to chip a ball over the defense past GW goalkeeper Jean-Pierre van der Merwe, who was off his line.

Then, in the 63rd minute, Brett caught the keeper cheating off his line again, and sent a shot from 50 yards out into the back of the net.

Brett, who entered the game as the nation’s fourth-leading scorer, completed the hat trick in the 73rd minute of play and added one more to his total with just three minutes to play. Following the day’s action, Brett had accrued an impressive 12 goals on the season.

Van der Merwe, whose 4.5 saves per game placed him fourth in the A-10, would only make four saves on the day, the same amount of goals he would allow.

“[Van der Merwe] got beat from about 50 yards on two goals,” Jones said. “I don’t want to jump the gun here and blame him for his positioning until I get to see the video, but as a goalkeeper you can’t let in four goals.”

Despite the lack of finishing, GW was able to tally a total of six shots on goal compared to eight for Robert Morris. The teams also matched each other in physicality, with GW committing 14 fouls to Robert Morris’ 13.

The Colonials enter conference play Saturday when they play Rhode Island on the road.

“It’s a terrible time to lose, and the way we fell apart in the second half obviously doesn’t bode well going into conference next week,” Jones said. “We kind of just have to shake that second half off and look to what’s happened in other games and even the first half today.”

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Then-junior Ridvan Pehlivan hurls the ball to a teammate in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo

Then-junior Ridvan Pehlivan hurls the ball to a teammate in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

After dropping three straight games, men’s water polo rebounded with wins over Caltech and Occidental on Saturday at the Gary Troyer Tournament.

GW fell to Cal Baptist, Claremont Mudd Scripps and Whittier, but bounced back with a 17-4 win over Caltech and 10-7 win over Occidental. The two wins brought the Colonials to 2-3 for their California road trip, and 8-8 overall on the season.

“As a whole, the trip wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, but we discovered some of the problems we’ve been having in the past few weeks,” head coach Scott Reed said.

Senior Ridvan Pehlivan paced the Colonials with 10 goals this weekend, while junior Bogdan Petkovic finished second on the team with seven.

Reed said the transition game and power play were two of the major challenges facing the team, which has lost seven of its last nine games.

“We’re losing some games because we’re not converting on those power play opportunities,” Reed said. “Everyone needs to get touches and we need to work on getting everyone involved.”

The Colonials surrendered double digits in goals in three of five games this weekend, but Reed said they achieved their team goal in finding more consistency.

GW returns to the Smith Center next weekend to face Johns Hopkins in the first of four straight conference games.

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Women's volleyball celebrates against Rhode Island earlier this season.

Volleyball celebrates in a game against Rhode Island earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

The volleyball team took care of George Mason on Friday, defeating the Patriots 3-1 to extend its win streak to three straight games.

Although the Colonials (12-4, 3-0 A-10) overwhelmed Mason (5-11, 1-2 A-10) in the first set, GW struggled to find consistent play on the floor.

Once the Colonials overcame their consistency issues and unforced errors, they bested the Patriots to advance to 3-0 in the Atlantic 10 for the first time since 2003.

“This win is always a big one,” head coach Amanda Ault said. “We always talk about the ‘D.C. challenge’ with teams like Georgetown, George Mason and American because we need to make sure we dominate the District each season. I think that each match in the A-10 will be big for us whether it’s at home or away and this game really prepared us for that.”

Sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu knocked down a career-high 19 kills while only committing four attack errors on 32 total attempts. Osuchukwu, along with junior outside hitter Maggie Skjelbred, paced the Colonials with .469 and .500 hitting percentages, respectively.

In the opening set, GW put Mason away early, swinging .370 while holding the Patriots to four kills over 26 attempts and cruised to a 25-13 set win.

In the second set, Mason capitalized on the Colonials’ errors. The Patriots contended with GW throughout the set, which saw three lead changes and 10 ties. Mason managed to throw the Colonials off balance and take the set 25-23.

“In the first set, we really got settled, we took care of things and we were pretty steady,” Ault said. “Then we flipped to the second set and then they came alive. When you go away for any match in the A-10, players feel comfortable at home and you’re going to feed off the crowd.”

GW retaliated with a strong defensive stance in the third set. Freshman defensive specialist Christina Porada maintained a presence throughout the game and racked up a season-high 18 digs. Junior Maddy Doyle also contributed defensively with 11 digs and two assists.

Despite the win, GW accumulated 10 service errors on the night and faltered in its serve-receive and blocking.

“We continued to have service errors as the game progressed and we talked about just being able to put the ball in tonight,” Ault said. “But when we did put it in, we were getting them out of system, we were making them become one dimensional, and then we weren’t playing defense on the opposite end of it.”

GW pushed through during the last two sets to pull away from Mason. After starting the third set from behind, the Colonials swung .300 and took the set, 25-16.

The energy carried on into the final frame, when GW fought to finish with a 25-22 set win. The Colonials forced four attack errors in a row, which put GW ahead 18-14. Powerful kills and impressive blocks helped hold GW until the end of the match.

“Now that we are rolling into October where we are in the midst of A-10, we really have to take care of being consistent with our play,” Ault said. “I think the different sets showed exactly that. When we are consistent, we take care of our job and we are doing things that we know we can do, then we are in control and we put ourselves in a good spot.

The Colonials head back to the Smith Center next Friday to host Saint Louis.

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Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 9:59 a.m.

Women’s soccer drops first A-10 match

Junior midfielder Nicole Belfonti fights for possession against an Old Dominion player on Aug. 24. Hatchet File Photo

Junior midfielder Nicole Belfonti fights for possession against an Old Dominion player on Aug. 24. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Mark Eisenhauer.

Women’s soccer (7-3-0, 0-1-0) dropped their first Atlantic 10 conference match against La Salle (5-4-2, 1-0-0) Friday, losing 3-0 to the two-time defending conference champions in GW’s third loss of the season.

Despite the shutout loss, head coach Sarah Barnes said the Colonials were close to matching the Explorers play for much of the game.

“I don’t think the score was indicative of how the game went,” Barnes said. “It was in many ways an even game. [La Salle] is just very good at punishing errors.”

Two of those errors came early in each half: The Explorers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute of the game and made the score 2-0 in the fifth minute of the second half.

La Salle forward Kelsey Haycook scored both goals, the first by penetrating the GW defense and chipping the ball into the back of the net past redshirt freshman goalkeeper Miranda Horn, and the second by burying a cross from a teammate.

The Colonials threatened to come back by creating some offensive chances, but Barnes said the early goals left the team with an uphill battle in both halves. La Salle would outshoot the Colonials 15-9 in the game.

“It’s really difficult to give up goals so quickly, it takes a little bit of the wind out of your sails,” Barnes said. “But we did respond well to both of them. We had the ball a number of times in good spots, and we just didn’t do a good enough job capitalizing.”

Even with their aggressive response, the Colonials could not break through on the score sheet the entire game. La Salle scored a third time in the 69th minute off a header sent to the top right corner of the net to secure the team’s victory.

Top scorers like sophomore MacKenzie Cowley and junior Nicole Belfonti were both held to zero shots on goal for GW. Junior Brooke Bean had a team-high two shots for the Colonials.

Junior midfielder Kristi Abbate said despite the lopsided score line, GW made a good offensive effort.

“There was a lot of times where we had more possession than them. It’s just that we have to get better at taking those chances, taking risks and overall just getting up the field more so we can be more dangerous in their box,” Abbate said.

Although Abbate stressed finishing on offense, the backline was slow to react to the movement of teammates and left holes for La Salle to exploit.

The GW defense, led by Horn, had only allowed five goals in nine games coming into the match, but faltered under the Explorers’ offensive pressure. Horn would be replaced in the 85th minute after giving up three goals and making only six saves.

Barnes said improvement at reading and covering long ball service, pinching when backs come off the line and precision in the offensive third are “huge” areas of priority going forward. Still, Barnes was optimistic even with the loss.

“I’m not happy about us losing, but I think [La Salle] is a very good team, and I think if we can come out against other teams and possess like we did against them, we are going to be successful,” Barnes said.

GW continues conference play Saturday at Fordham before returning home for a three-game stretch.

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Junior Jonny Forrest drives past several Saint Peter's players last weekend. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Junior Jonny Forrest drives past several Saint Peter’s players last weekend. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: Oct. 1, 2014 at 5:03 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Ellee Watson.

After a 3-2 overtime win against Longwood (1-5-1), men’s soccer head coach Craig Jones can finally shave his beard.

Jones had refused to shave until the team snapped its three-game losing streak, but two come-from-behind goals and a game-winner from sophomore Angel Valencia gave him the green light.

“Today we finally had some quality in the attacking, the final third,” Jones said. “The big difference today was that we were finally able to convert some of those chances that we have been getting.”

Valencia scored off a rebounded shot from sophomore Sam Summerlin in the 96th minute of play after freshman Christian Lawal’s 86th minute goal forced overtime. Junior Oliver de Thier had already scored from behind off a free kick in the 60th minute.

Valencia’s game-winner came with just nine players on the pitch for Longwood after the Lancers drew two red cards.

“We were very confident the whole game. We were playing very well, so we knew it was just a matter of time before we got back in the game,” Valencia said. “We never felt like we were in trouble.”

After suffering two consecutive shutouts, the Colonials (4-4-0) needed to jumpstart their offense and used a rotation of players near the front end to keep the pressure on Longwood, who they would outshoot 10-5 in the game.

While juniors Jonny Forrest and Phillip McQuitty have started consistently as forwards, Jones switched up his midfield by starting junior Eddie Painter, sophomores Spiros Tsakos and Garret Heine and freshman Alex Conning in the game. De Their, Lawal, sophomore Jopus Grevelink and freshmen Oliver Curry and Koby Osei-Wusi also contributed minutes.

After a slow start, GW began to piece plays together and create scoring chances around the 35th minute. Forrest, Conning, Lawal and senior Matthew Scott all took chances with headers in addition to shots by sophomore Tobi Adewole and Curry.

“We’ve been getting into those spots we just haven’t been converting,” Jones said. “Finally, tonight, especially in the second half and obviously in overtime, we just converted those chances.”

The Colonials created the opportunity for De Thier with constant pressure on the Longwood defense. They continued the barrage with the score tied with shots from Heine, Forrest and Curry, which forced Longwood sophomore Carlos Canas to make two saves. Canas would finish the game with seven saves.

Goalie Jean Pierre van der Merwe came into the game after what Jones called the worst game of van der Merwe’s career. In that game, a 4-0 loss to Saint Peter’s, van der Merwe’s eagerness to come off the line left gaping holes that resulted in two goals and his replacement.

This time, Jones said there was not much van der Merwe could have done to prevent the two Longwood goals and that the goalie kept the team in the game when they were down 1-0. Van der Merwe finished with three saves.

Valencia said the players still felt confident on the field even when they were playing from behind. Jones tried to lighten the mood before the game, which was delayed due to a late start time in an earlier game on the same field, with some extra incentive for the team to win.

“I told the guys I’d take them out for a steak dinner,” Jones said. “Hopefully they don’t remember, but I’m sure they’ll remind me. Sometimes you need a little humor to lighten the mood so that everybody is not as nervous.”

Clean shaven and with their losing streak snapped, the Colonials return to play Sunday at Robert Morris in their final non-conference game.

Nora Princiotti contributed reporting.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the men’s soccer team’s losing streak was four games. The team’s losing streak was three games. We regret this error.

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Sophomore Chidima Osuchukwu elevates to hit a ball earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore Chidima Osuchukwu elevates to hit a ball earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

Sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu has earned the Atlantic 10 Conference’s Player of the Week award for the second week in a row.

Osuchukwu led the Colonials to two A-10 wins against Rhode Island and Fordham to start the conference season 2-0 for the first time since 2003. Osuchukwu accumulated 29 kills over GW’s two matches, hitting a striking .359. In the conference opener against Rhode Island on Friday, she knocked down 16 kills on .317 hitting and led the Colonials with 41 total attack attempts.

Osuchukwu followed Friday’s performance with 13 kills, hitting a blistering .435 to lead all players Saturday versus Fordham. Along with powerful swings on offense, Osuchukwu applied defensive pressure to shut down the Rams, tallying five blocks (one solo, four sets) to help the Colonials sweep all three sets.

With consistent drive on the floor, Osuchukwu has averaged 3.57 kills per set and totaled 75 blocks on the season. She tops the A-10 blocking category with 1.47 blocks per set and ranks third in the conference with a .354 attack percentage.

Osuchukwu has racked up A-10 awards this season as well as the GW Invitational’s Most Valuable Player award. She also earned A-10 Player of Week after her performance during the Crossroads of America at Valparaiso University on Sept. 20 and previously won a Defensive Player of the Week award earlier this season.

The team will face George Mason (5-10, 1-1 A-10) on Friday at 7 p.m. for their first away game of conference play.

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