No. 12 Air Force Falls to 15th-Ranked St. Francis
Sept. 13, 2009
USAFA, Colo. - Limited to just one second-half goal, the No. 12 Air Force water polo team dropped a 12-8 contest to No. 15 St. Francis Sunday morning at Cadet Natatorium in the final game of the East Meets West Tournament. The Falcons fall to 4-4 overall on the season, while the Terriers move to 5-3 on the year.
After St. Francis opened the scoring at the 6:13 mark in the first period, the Falcons' Alex Churnside (Sr., Orange, Calif.) tied the game at 1-1 just over a minute later. However, the Terriers' offense took over the game, notching four unanswered goals in less than three minutes to take a 5-1 advantage. A score from Kurt Lemmen (Jr., Orlando, Fla.) before the end of the period helped cut Air Force's deficit back to three goals.
St. Francis again scored quickly to start the second quarter to regain its four-goal advantage. However, the Falcons' offense began to click, as junior Bobby Geiger (Buellton, Calif.) sparked a 5-0 run for Air Force. Jack Hines (Sr., Riverside, Calif.) capped off the spurt by scoring with 33 seconds remaining in the opening half to give the Falcons their first lead of the game.
Unfortunately, Air Force was unable to hold on to its advantage, as St. Francis was able to outscore the Falcons 3-0 in the third period, including a penalty shot that was set up by a controversial call. The Terriers were able to extend their lead to 10-7 early in the final stanza, before a timely goal from Lemmen pulled Air Force back within two points with just under six minutes remaining. However, with some big stops from St. Francis goalkeeper Nikola Djuric, the Falcons were unable to get back on the board, while the Terriers went on for the 12-8 victory.
Lemmen and Geiger paced the Air Force offense with two goals each, while Churnside, Matt Shields (Jr., Gilroy, Calif.), Matt Versage (Jr., Merced, Calif.) and Hines added the final scores.
Despite Sunday's loss, the Falcons were still named champions of the East Meets West Tournament. With all three teams finishing the weekend with a 2-2 record, the winner was determined based on goal differential. Thanks to Air Force's seven-goal victory over St. Francis on Saturday, the Falcons were able to secure the team title.
Earning tournament MVP honors was Churnside, while Hines and Cruz Smithson (Fr., Capistrano Beach, Calif.) joined him on the all-tournament team. Completing the East Meets West All-Tournament team were Austen Ramer and Aaron Steiger of Cal Baptist and Nikola Djuric and Pedja Predin of St. Francis.
Air Force is back in action next weekend, Sept. 19-20, at the prestigious NorCal Tournament, hosted by Stanford. In the first round of the tournament, which features 15 of the top 20 teams in the nation, the Falcons will face sixth-ranked UC Santa Barbara.
No. 15 St. Francis 12, No. 12 Air Force 8