Falcons Win Three at Navy Tournament
May 5, 2004
In spring water polo action, the Air Force Falcons went 3-2, defeating the New York Athletic Club, Northeast Zone and Toronto and falling twice to Navy at the Navy Water Polo Invitational (April 24-25). The tournament was the team's final competition before hosting the Rocky Mountain tournament next weekend.
Air Force opened the Navy tournament with an 11-8 win over the New York Athletic club. Scoring for Air Force were Murphey Morgan and Eric Swenson with three goals each, Matt Herrera with two goals and Jeff Donaldson, Kyle Schafer, and Nick Burton each with a goal. Morgan, Chris Nary and Donaldson each added two assists. The player of the game was goalie Jared Jones, who tallied 15 saves and two steals.
In the second game, Air Force lost to Navy 8-6. The top scorer for Air Force was Swenson with three goals. Morgan, Nary and Herrera with on goal each. Nary and Donaldson led the team with two assists each, and Donaldson had three steals. The player of the game went to Murphey Morgan with a +12 on the stat sheet.
In the third game of the event, Air Force beat the Northeast Zone team 8-4. Scoring for Air Force were Nary with three goals, Kyle Schafer with two goals and Swenson, Peter Larsen, and Matt Adams with a single goal each. The team was led by Jared Jones, who had eight saves, one steal and one assist. In the power play category, Air Force was 2-for-2 while the Northeast Zone team was 0-for-5.
In the fourth game of the tournament, Air Force played a team from Toronto, Canada. With less then a minute remaining in the game, the Falcons trailed 5-6. Swenson tied the game on a power play and Chris Nary put the game away with a nice layout shot from two meters out for the 7-6 victory. Tied for MVP honors were goalie Jared Jones and freshman, Kyle Schafer; the duo each finished with a +10 for the game. Scoring were Morgan, Nary and Swenson with two goals each and Schafer with one goal. Herrera led the team with three assists while Morgan grabbed four steals.
In the last game of the tournament, Air Force matched up with Navy again, losing 14-7. After outscoring Air Force 2-1 in the first quarter, Navy scored 10 goals in the next two quarters, mainly on the counter attack. The final quarter saw the teams playing even at two goals each. In the losing effort Murphey Morgan was player of the game with a +10.
The overall stats for the weekend had goalie Jared Jones with a +48. Murphey Morgan notched a +30 and Chris Nary was +29. Air Force shot 35 percent on the weekend while the opponents shot 24 percent. In the man up category, Air Force made 13 of 28 shots (46%), while their opponents were only 8 of 22 (36 %).
Two of the Falcons' top players, Josh Jewett and Brian McShane, were not able to play because of injury and the team looks to have both players back for the 2004 season. The teammates were key players on the 2003 team that finished with an 18-10 record and a National Ranking of 14th. Both were NCAA Academic All-Americans in 2003.
Other highlights of the weekend included a dinner hosted by Chris Nitzel's parents with 40 in attendance and a chance for each player to get a 40-minute helicopter ride over Washington D.C. on Saturday night.
"This was a very valuable trip for the Air Force Water Polo team and may become an annual event," head coach Jeff Ehrlich said. "We especially want to thank helicopter pilots, Captain Mackie Contreras and his wife, Anne-Marie, for hosting us and setting up the incentive rides at Andrews Air Force Base. Many players feel that might be their aircraft of choice after the ride."
Next weekend, May 1-2, Air Force will host the Rocky Mountain Tournament with teams from Florida, New Mexico and Colorado attending. The Alumni will also field a team and it could be the best Alumni team ever.