Air Force Closes Out Day One of SoCal Tournament
Oct. 1, 2011
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - Facing a pair of top-15 teams, the Air Force water polo team dropped two contests on the first day of competition at the SoCal Tournament, being hosted by Long Beach State at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Center. The Falcons fell to second-ranked UCLA, 18-5, before suffering a heart-breaking loss against No. 12 UC San Diego, 12-11.
In its first contest of the day, Air Force (4-7, 2-4) started out close against the second-ranked Bruins, trailing 3-2 after getting goals from sophomores Josh Stedman (Brea, Calif.) and Max Reilly (Davis, Calif.) in the first three minutes of the opening period. However, UCLA went on a 3-0 run to end the quarter, taking a 6-2 advantage.
The Bruins scored two more goals to begin the second period before the Falcons got back on the board with a tally from freshman Petar Jackovich (New Lenox, Ill.). Another two UCLA scores gave the Bruins a 10-3 advantage, but the Falcons' Andrew Hamilton (So., Mechanicsburg, Pa.) registered his first goal of the game with just one second remaining in the period.
UCLA dominated the second half, tallying the first three goals of the third quarter. Air Force's only goal after the intermission came on a man-up score from Hamilton at the 2:40 mark in the third period. Meanwhile, the Bruins outscore the Falcons, 5-0, in the final stanza to earn the 18-5 victory.
Following its loss to UCLA, Air Force was pitted against conference rival UC San Diego, taking on the 12th-ranked Tritons for the third time this season. While UCSD got out to a quick 2-0 lead, the Falcons closed out the opening period on a 5-1 run to grab a two-goal advantage.
The Tritons were able to come back in the second period, eventually taking a 7-6 lead before Stedman's score at the 1:15 mark tied the game going into the intermission. While UCSD scored the first goal after the break, Air Force regained a two-goal cushion by registering the last three goals of the third period.
In the final stanza, UC San Diego again scored the first goal of the period, cutting its margin to a single point with 5:59 remaining. A man-up goal from Air Force junior Brad Rajchel (Winter Park, Fla.) with just under three minutes to play pushed the Falcons' lead back to two goals, but the Tritons were not finished. UCSD was able to score three goals in the final two minutes of action, including the game-winner by Graham Saber with just five seconds on the clock.
Hamilton was the Falcons' leading scorer against the Tritons, notching a career-high four goals, while Reilly and Rajchel added two goals each. Meanwhile, also finding the back of the net for Air Force were Cruz Smithson (Jr., Capistrano Beach, Calif.) and Dillon Fisher (Jr., Orange, Calif.).
The Falcons wrap up competition at the SoCal Tournament with two more games tomorrow.
No. 2 UCLA 18, Air Force 5