Air Force Water Polo Team Wins Five Games in Rocky Mountain Tournament

    Air Force was 5-1 in weekend competition
    Air Force was 5-1 in weekend competition

    May 3, 2004

    The Air Force water polo team won five games in the Rocky Mountain Water Polo Tournament, including a four-overtime victory over the Alumni/Seniors team. Teams traveled from Florida and New Mexico to participate in the spring tournament, hosted by the Academy over the weekend (May 1-2).

    In the highlighted game of the tournament, the 2004 Falcon water polo team played the Alumni/Senior team. Five of the seniors who started on the 2003's 18-10 team that held a national ranking of 14th competed against their former teammates. The Alumni included three-time NCAA All-American Brian Pendergast, 1996 most valuable player and goalie Craig Thomas, 1995 captain and most valuable player John Christ, and 2000 first-team all-conference selection Brent Reimer. Other outstanding Air Force Alumni included Dr. Keith Limbird, Capt. Jim Binns, Jim Melvin, Kelly Kemp (74 grad) , and Capt. Greg Krino. The team was coached by retired Lt. Colonel Jeff Heidmous, who was the previous head coach for 17 years. Heidmous was recently inducted to the Water Polo Hall of Fame, along with retired Lt. Col. Kelly Kemp.

    At the end of the first quarter the score was 3-1 in favor of Air Force. At the end of the half Air Force held a 5-2 lead. The Alumni cut the deficit to a single goal when they outscored Air Force 2-0 in the third quarter, with goals by Pendergast and Brent Reimer. The teams exchanged goals in the fourth quarter, with Alumni's Pendergast scoring a half court shot to tie the game at the buzzer. Neither team was able to score in two overtime periods. In the first sudden death period both teams had chances but great goalie play prevented any goals. In the 2nd sudden-death overtime, Kyle Schafer skipped the game-winning goal by Capt. Craig Thomas, the goalie coach for the Air Force team.

    "This is only the second time in my 35 years of coaching I have been involved in four overtimes" said head coach Jeff Ehrlich. "What an exciting game and a great confidence builder for next year's team who had two of their top players, Josh Jewett and Brian McShane, sitting out with injuries."

    Air Force opened the weekend tournament with a 13-6 victory over a Men's Masters team from Denver. Air Force had nine players get on the scoreboard with Murphey Morgan, Matt Herrera, Jeff Donaldson, and Eric Swenson each scoring two goals. Nick Burton, Chris Nary, Christian Blume, Blake Pickell, and Kyle Schafer each tallied a goal.

    In their final game of the tournament, the Air Force Alumni notched an 8-6 win over the Falcons. In the losing effort, Chris Nary and Eric Swenson each scored two goals, while Murphey Morgan and Matt Herrera each notched a goal each. Pendergast did not play for the Alumni, as he suffered a broken hand in the New Mexico game. The Alumni's only loss was to the Air Force varsity squad in four overtimes; they defeated each of the other opponents.

    "This was an excellent tournament for the varsity and should prepare us for our toughest schedule ever in 2004," Ehrlich said.

    The 2004 season will highlight national powerhouse UCLA and service academy rival Navy, which travels to Air Force for a Friday, Sept. 10th match.

    Air Force 8, Air Force Alumni/Seniors 7

    Air Force Scoring: Murphey Morgan (2), Kyle Schafer (2), Chris Nary (2), Nick Burton (1), Eric Swenson (1)

    Alumni/Seniors Scoring: Brian Pendergast (2), Scott Butler (2), Brent Reimer (1), Kirk Reimer (1), Eric Baber (1)

    Other Air Force Game Scores:
    Air FOrce 13 Denver Masters 6
    Air Force 8 Alumni/Seniors 7 4-OT
    Air Force 13 New Mexico 7
    Air Force 13 Florida 8
    Air Force 14 CU Boulder 6
    Alumni/Srs 8 Air Force 6



    Inside Men's Water Polo