No. 13 Air Force Earns Opening Round Victory at WWPA Championship
Nov. 16, 2012
WHITTIER, Calif. - Rolling to a 9-3 advantage after one half, the third-seeded Air Force water polo team defeated six-seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Western Water Polo Association Championship.
Junior Andrew Hamilton (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) put Air Force on the board in the first minute of the contest, and while the score went back and forth for much of the opening period, the Falcons closed out the stanza with a pair of goals to take a 5-3 advantage after one quarter.
Air Force, ranked 13th in the nation, pulled away in the second period, outscoring Claremont 4-0, to take a six-goal advantage into the break. While the Stags tallied the first goal of the third quarter, they were never able to get closer than six goals the rest of the way, as the Falcons held on to their comfortable lead.
The Falcons were unable to score on either of their 6-on-5 opportunities against the Stags, but capitalized on all three penalty shots. Senior Cruz Smithson (Capistrano Beach, Calif.) led Air Force's offense with five goals, while Hamilton, Josh Stedman (Jr., Brea, Calif.), Jantz Johnson (So., Murrieta, Calif.) and Brad Rajchel (Sr., Orlando, Fla.) added two goals each.
Meanwhile, Air Force also received solid play from its goalkeepers, with senior Mike Fish (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) recording 14 saves and freshman Caleb Guarino (Diamond Bar, Calif.) adding four stops and no goals against in just under five minutes of action.
With his five goals against CMS, Smithson moved into fifth place on Air Force's career goals list (172), while he moved into 10th place on the Falcons' career points list (233).
The Falcons (17-10) are back in action tomorrow afternoon with a semi-final contest versus 11th-ranked Loyola Marymount, the second-seed in this year's tournament.
No. 13 Air Force 14, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 6