CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Jacqueline Bywater (So., Riverside, Calif./Riverside Poly) scored four times, including a pair in the fourth quarter, to claim Player of the Game honors and key the Colonials of George Washington University to a 9-8 victory over Division III No. 9-ranked/Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Champion Connecticut College in the opening game of the 2016 CWPA Championship at Harvard University's Blodgett Pool.
The victory punches the Colonials' ticket to a 6:00 p.m. clash with No. 5-nationally ranked and No. 1 seed the University of Michigan Wolverines. GW (8-16, 9-7 CWPA Division I/II) played Michigan twice during the regular season as the Maize & Blue topped the Colonials 19-2 on March 6 during non-conference action at the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich., prior to picking up a 20-2 victory on April 17 at Princeton University during league play.
Both teams struggled to get their offenses in gear during the opening minutes of the contest as neither squad found the back of the cage until Connecticut's Sam Pierce (Sr., Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) converted on a man-up chance by lancing in the opening tally with 3:53 left in the first quarter for a quick 1-0 Camels' lead.
The margin lasted for 13 seconds until Erin McGeoy (So., Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara) responded with an even-strength strike at the 3:40 mark to balance the scoreboard at one-all and erase the only lead Connecticut (15-7, 14-3 CWPA Division III) held in the game.
Following nearly three more minutes of scoreless action the Colonials went ahead 3-1 prior to the conclusion of the quarter as Scarlett Hallahan (So., San Diego, Calif./La Jolla) torched the GW defense for a marker with 49 seconds on the clock. Anya Welch (Fr., Westmoorings, Trinidad/International School of Port of Spain) expanded the spread to a pair prior to the frame's concluding horn as she cashed in on a man-up chance with nine seconds to go for a 3-1 GW scoring advantage through eight minutes of competition.
Bywater then took over the game as the sophomore stung the Camels for man-up (6:26) and natural (5:55) goals to begin the second quarter and hand her squad a 5-1 lead.
However, 2016 CWPA Divsion III regular season and championship Most Valuble Player Kelsey Millward (Sr., Baie-d'Urfe, Quebec/Loomis Chaffee) wrestled away control of the game from Bywater as she connected for a pair of even-strength (5:55, 2:33) tallies and lined home a five-meter penalty shot (4:08) to single-handedly lead the Camels to water and trim GW's lead down to 5-4 entering halftime.
Millward continued to punish George Washington's defense as she hammered home her fourth consecutive goal and third even-strength strike 19 seconds into the third quarter to make it five-all.
McGeoy returned the lead to the Colonials at 6:37 via a power-play point, but April Anderson (So., Mill Valley, Calif./Tamalpais) responded in kind with a man-up goal of her own at 6:14 to make it six-all.
George Washington regained the lead for good at 3:24 as Maggie Ball (So., Saratoga, Calif./Saint Francis) bombed in a ball to put the Colonials in front 7-6.
Bywater did the rest to build a lead which the Camels were unable to overcome as the sophomore stroked in man-up (7:08) and penalty shot (6:14) chances within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to expand GW's lead to an insurmountable 9-6.
Millward, however, would prove to be the equal of her capital city foe as she put away another five-meter penalty chance (3:27) and an even-strength opportunity (1:10) to pull the Camels within 9-8 and allow the specter of overtime to hang over the final 70 seconds of the contest.
However, George Washington goalie Katherine Moeller (Fr., Northford, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall) did in her home state college by anchoring the Colonials' defense to blank Connecticut the rest of the way and hang on for a narrow 9-8 victory.
The game marks the second consecutive overall/postseason meeting between George Washington and Connecticut decided by one goal as the Colonials fell by a 13-12 count at last year's CWPA Championship hosted by Princeton. In the history of the two programs, Connecticut has never defeated the Colonials.
For George Washington, McGeoy scored twice to join Bywater in registering a multi-goal game. Hallahan, Welch and Ball each chipped in solo markers, while Moeller claimed her inaugural postseason victory with 13 saves.
Millward netted a game-high six goals to key Connecticut, while Pierce and Anderson each dented the twine once. Goalie Sarah Sovia (Jr., Pottstow, Pa./The Hill School) took the loss from between the pipes with five saves.
The loss drops Connecticut into the consolation side of the championship bracket as the Camels will return to the water at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, against the fallen from a first round game between the host/No. 18 Crimson of Harvard and the Tigers of defending CWPA Champion/No. 17 Princeton. It will mark the first meeting of the season for Connecticut against either the Crimson or Tigers as Connecticut has faced only three Division I teams in 2016 (Siena College - 10-4 L; Brown Universty - 17-14 L, 17-10 L); George Washington).
|Division III No. 9 Connecticut College (15-7, 14-3 CWPA Division III)
|George Washington University (8-16, 0-7 CWPA Division I/II)
GW Goals: Jacqueline Bywater (4); Erin McGeoy (2); Scarlett Hallahan; Anya Welch; Maggie Ball
Connecticut Goals: Kelsey Millward (6); Sam Pierce; April Anderson
Saves: GW - Katherine Moeller (13) ; Connecticut - Sarah Sovia (5)
Exclusions: GW - 9 ; Connecticut - 7
Advantage Opportunities: GW - 5-for-7 ; Connecticut - 4-for-9
Sprints: GW - 0-for-4 ; Connecticut - 4-for-4
Officials: Alex Stankevitch, Humberto Navarro