Aug. 31, 2004
This weekend, the Air Force water polo team gets the 2004 season to a start as it heads to La Jolla, Calif., for the Triton Invitational Sept. 4-5, hosted by UC San Diego. The Falcons will take on WWPA opponent Whittier in their first contest of the season at 11:45 p.m. (PDT). Air Force will then face UC Santa Barbara at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The Falcons' opponents on day two of the tournament will be determined following Saturday's action.
This year's Falcons, who finished third in the WWPA last year, look to put together another impressive season after compiling an 18-10 record and earning a No. 14 national ranking in 2003. The 2004 squad is led by senior captains Josh Jewett (La Habra Heights, Calif.) and Jared Jones (Orange, Calif.). Jewett was fourth on the stat sheets in 2003 with 185 points, tallying 27 goals, 19 assists, 37 draw ejections, 52 steals, 10 prevent scores and 16 new shot clocks. Jones had 51 saves, eight steals and seven assists for the 2003 season in the role of backup goalie.
The field of competition for this year's Triton Invitational is split into three groups. Group 1 includes UC Irvine, Redlands and La Verne. UC San Diego, UC Davis and Pomona will compete in Group 2, while Air Force is in Group 3 with UC Santa Barbara and Whittier. All but two of the nine teams (UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara) are members of the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA).
The Whittier Poets, who compete at the Division III level, finished with a record of 12-18 in 2003, including a 6-12 mark against WWPA opponents. Whittier also competes in the SCIAC, and finished third in 2003 in the conference with a 6-2 record. Air Force meets Whittier for the eighth time this weekend, and has never lost to the Poets. The last contest between the two teams was a 11-3 Falcon victory on Nov. 8 last season.
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are coming off a 14-17 record in 2003, their highest win total since 1993. The Gauchos, who compete in the MPSF, finished seventh at their conference tournament a year ago with a 9-8 overtime victory over UC Irvine. This weekend's contest marks the 27th meeting between the Falcons and Gauchos, as UCSB leads the all-time series 22-4. The Gauchos picked up a 10-6 victory over Air Force in their last meeting on Nov. 3, 2001.
Following this weekend's tournament, the Falcons return to action on Sept. 10 for the first of two home contests. First, Air Force hosts UCLA on Sept.10 in a 7:30 p.m. game. Then the Falcons face service academy-rival Navy on Sept. 12 at 9:00 a.m. Admission is free to both matches, which will be held in the Cadet Natatorium.