No. 20 Air Force Falls to 10th-Ranked UC San Diego
Sept. 23, 2011
USAFA, Colo. - Playing in its first home game of the season, the No. 20 Air Force water polo team dropped a 13-6 decision to conference rival UC San Diego, currently ranked 10th in the nation. With the loss, the Falcons fall to 3-6 overall on the season and 1-3 in the Western Water Polo Association, while the Tritons improve to 8-2, 6-2 in the WWPA.
The contest started out as a close back-and-forth affair, with UC San Diego getting the first score of the game less than 40 seconds into the opening period. A goal from Air Force senior Taque Patino (Rockford, Mich.) with 3:51 on the clock tied the score at 1-1, but the Tritons once again took the lead with a score just over a minute and a half later.
The teams traded goals for the final two minutes of the first period, with the Falcons' Andrew Hamilton (So., Mechanicsburg, Pa.) notching a pair of scores to tie the game at 3-3 with just six seconds remaining in the quarter.
UCSD regained its lead just over a minute into the second period and pushed the margin to 5-3 midway through the quarter. While Hamilton added his third tally of the game to cut the Falcons' deficit back to a single goal, the Tritons notched two last-second scores in the final minute of the half--one as the shot clock was expiring and another just one second before the end of the period--to begin to pull away.
UC San Diego took a commanding lead in the third period, scoring four goals in the first four minutes to grab an 11-4 advantage. While the Falcons finally broke their scoring drought with a goal from Brad Rajchel (Jr., Winter Park, Fla.) at the 3:34 mark, the Tritons closed out the quarter with two more scores to grab their largest lead of the game.
Air Force was able to shut out UCSD in the final stanza, thanks in part to a strong effort by backup goalkeeper Mike Fish (Jr., Manhattan Beach, Calif.), who recorded five stops in the period. Meanwhile, the Falcons' Cruz Smithson (Jr., Capistrano Beach, Calif.) registered the only score of the quarter to bring the final tally to 13-6.
Hamilton's three goals led the Falcons, while Matt Michalko paced the Tritons with a hat trick of his own.
The Falcons return to action next weekend for another tough slate of games, visiting conference opponent Chapman on Friday, Sept. 30, while taking part in the annual SoCal Tournament, being hosted by Long Beach State, Oct. 1-2.
No. 10 UC San Diego 13, No. 20 Air Force 6