Sept. 6, 2009
LA JOLLA, Calif. - With its first win over a top-10 team in the last five seasons, the 19th-ranked Air Force water polo team wrapped up competition Sunday at the Triton Invitational, hosted by UC San Diego. The Falcons opened up their day with an 11-4 win over Pomona-Pitzer, before knocking off the 10th-ranked host Tritons, 14-12.
With the victories, the Falcons improve to 2-2 overall on the season and 2-1 in the Western Water Polo Association.
Air Force's win over conference rival UC San Diego was one of its biggest in years, marking just the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Falcons have knocked off a team ranked in the top 15. Freshman Cruz Smithson (Capistrano Beach, Calif.) got Air Force off to a strong start against UC San Diego, scoring just three seconds into the game, but a pair of Triton goals put UCSD on top.
While the game was a close battle, with five ties over the next three periods, the Falcons were unable to regain the advantage until a score from Bobby Geiger (Jr., Buellton, Calif.), his third of the game, gave Air Force a 10-9 lead with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.
Geiger scored two more goals in the first two minutes of the final period to put the Falcons ahead 12-10, but UCSD rallied with two unanswered scores of its own. Junior Kurt Lemmen (Orlando, Fla.) scored at the 2:35 mark in the quarter to break the stalemate, registering what would prove to be the game-winning goal. Meanwhile, Smithson iced the win for Air Force, tallying his fifth goal of the game with 35 seconds left on the clock.
Smithson and Geiger each had five goals for the Falcons, while Lemmen added a pair. Also scoring for Air Force were Kurt Wallin (Jr., Temecula, Calif.) and Alex Churnside (Sr., Orange, Calif.). Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper David Ostrom (Mission Viejo, Calif.) recorded 10 saves in four periods of action.
In its first game of the day, Air Force faced another conference opponent, Pomona-Pitzer. Again, the Falcons were first to score as Geiger put Air Force on the board midway through the first period before the Sagehens responded to tie the score at 1-1. The Falcons closed out the quarter with goals from Geiger and Lemmen, while Smithson extended Air Force's lead to three goals early in the second period.
The Falcons dominated the second quarter against Pomona, outscoring the Sagehens 5-1, getting a pair of scores from Matt Versage (Jr., Merced, Calif.), as well as the first career goal for sophomore Taque Patino (Rockford, Mich.). With an 8-2 cushion after two periods, the Falcons never let Pomona get closer than five goals, as they cruised to the 11-4 victory.
Geiger was the Falcons' leading scorer against the Sagehens with three goals, while Smithson and Versage added two goals each. Rounding out the scoring for Air Force were Lemmen, Patino, Jack Hines (Sr., Riverside, Calif.) and freshman Garrett Womack (Redlands, Calif.) with his first career goal. Ostrom tallied nine saves in the first three periods, while backup keeper Danny Harold (So., Corona Del Mar, Calif.) posted three stops in the final period.
The Falcons return to action next weekend, Sept. 11-13, as they host the annual East Meets West Tournament. Air Force will welcome St. Francis and Cal Baptist, along with club team Lindenwood. The Falcons' first game of the weekend will be Friday versus Cal Baptist at 7:30 p.m. at the Cadet Natatorium.
No. 19 Air Force 11, Pomona-Pitzer 4
Pomona 1 1 2 0 4
Air Force 3 5 1 2 11
PP Scoring: Lee 2, Balikian, Hadley
AF Scoring: Geiger 3, Smithson 2, Versage 2, Lemmen, Patino, Hines, Womack
No. 19 Air Force 14, No. 10 UC San Diego 12
Air Force 3 3 4 4 14
UCSD 4 3 2 3 12
AF Scoring: Smithson 5, Geiger 5, Lemmen 2, Wallin, Churnside
UCSD Scoring: Cruz 4, Gresham 3, Donohoe 3, Madsen, Butler