REDLANDS, Calif. - The 16th-ranked Air Force water polo team began the 2012 season with a pair of conference victories at the Inland Empire Classic Saturday, defeating host Redlands, 13-8, and Chapman, 15-8.
Air Force used a balanced offensive effort to roll to a 13-8 victory over Redlands in its first game, getting out to a 5-2 edge after one period while leading 13-6 after three quarters. Junior Andrew Hamilton (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) was the Falcons' leading goal scorer with three tallies, while Petar Jackovich (So., New Lenox, Ill.), Jantz Johnson (So., Murrieta, Calif.), Cruz Smithson (Sr., Capistrano Beach, Calif.) and Josh Stedman (Jr., Brea, Calif.) with two scores each.
Leading Air Force's defensive effort against the Bulldogs was senior goalkeeper Mike Fish (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), who tallied 10 stops in three periods of action, while senior Alex Arcidiacono (La Jolla, Calif.) was credited with a team-high two steals. Redlands did hold the advantage in 6-on-5 situations, scoring six of their eight goals with an extra man. Meanwhile, Air Force finished just 2-of-8 on the 6-on-5 versus the Bulldog.
In its second contest of the day, Air Force was led by Stedman, who scored six goals to lead the Falcons to a 15-8 victory over Chapman. Air Force led 5-1 after one period, and while the Panthers cut into their deficit in the second period, the Falcons pulled away in the third quarter, taking a 12-6 lead into the final stanza.
Against Chapman, Air Force was 4-of-6 on their 6-on-5 opportunities, while the Panthers were just 2-of-7. Meanwhile, Fish again had a strong performance in goal for the Falcons, registering 16 stops in three periods of action.
Also on Saturday, Smithson moved into a tie for 20th place on the Falcons' all-time scoring list, registering three goals and an assist on the day. He now has 181 points (136g, 45a) for his career, tying him with 1997 graduate Mackie Contreras.
The Falcons return to action tomorrow for the conclusion of the Inland Empire Classic, visiting tournament co-host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a WWPA contest, while also facing ninth-ranked Long Beach State.
No. 16 Air Force 13, Redlands 8
Air Force - 5 3 5 0 - 13
Redlands - 2 2 2 2 - 8
AF Scoring: Hamilton 3, Jackovich 2, J. Johnson 2, Smithson 2, Stedman 2, Rajchel, Rogers
Redlands Scoring: N/A
No. 16 Air Force 15, Chapman 8
Air Force - 5 2 5 3 - 15
Chapman - 1 3 2 2 - 8
AF Scoring: Stedman 6, Rajchel, Smithson, Arcidiacono, Reilly, G. Womack, Hamilton, Kamai, K. Womack, Rogers
Chapman Scoring: N/A