No. 12 Air Force Falls to Cal Baptist in Home Opener
Sept. 11, 2009
USAFA, Colo. - Despite a late fourth-quarter rally led by senior captain Jack Hines (Riverside, Calif.), the 12th-ranked Air Force water polo team dropped a 12-11 contest to Cal Baptist Friday evening at Cadet Natatorium during the East Meets West Tournament. With the loss, the Falcons fall to 2-3 overall on the season, while the Lancers open the year with a 1-0 record.
Trailing 12-8 with just over five and a half minutes remaining in regulation, the Falcons needed a big push to get back in the game against the Lancers. Hines, playing against his younger brother, Peter, gave Air Force that needed boost, scoring a pair of goals in less than a minute. He then added another score with 2:44 left in the game to bring the Falcons back within one goal, but Air Force turnovers down the stretch cemented the 12-11 Cal Baptist victory.
The Lancers were first to score in the contest, when Aaron Steiger, the nation's leading goal scorer in 2008, put CBU on the board less than a minute into the game. Senior captain Jason Fung (Honolulu, Hawaii) was able to tie the game at 1-1 before Steiger struck again to put Cal Baptist back on top. The opening period ended with a 2-2 tie following a penalty goal from Alex Churnside (Sr., Orange, Calif.) at the 2:44 mark.
While the first quarter was relatively low-scoring, both teams seemed to score at will during the second stanza. Fung gave the Falcons their first lead of the game in the opening minute of the period, but the two teams traded goals over the next several minutes. However, the Lancers closed out the half with a pair of unanswered scores to take an 8-6 advantage at the break.
Junior Matt Versage (Merced, Calif.) brought Air Force within a point after scoring in the first 10 seconds of the third period, but the Falcons were unable to get back on the board in the quarter, while the Lancers increased their advantage to 11-7 going into the final period.
Churnside was the leading scorer for the Falcons, notching four goals in the contest, while Hines was second with his three scores. Fung scored two goals, while Matt Shields (Jr., Gilroy, Calif.) and Versage added a goal each. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Danny Harold (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) had a solid effort in relief for the Falcons, notching seven saves after entering the game at the half.
The Falcons are back in action tomorrow for the second day of the East Meets West Tournament. Air Force will get an opportunity to avenge tonight's loss when it faces Cal Baptist again at 11:30 a.m., followed by a 3:00 p.m. contest with 15th-ranked St. Francis.
Cal Baptist 12, No. 12 Air Force 11