Sept. 9, 2009
The 12th-ranked Air Force water polo team plays at home for the only time this season as it hosts the East Meets West Tournament this weekend, Sept. 11-13. The Falcons will welcome No. 15 St. Francis and Cal Baptist, as well as club team Lindenwood, during the three-day tournament.
East Meets West Schedule...
This weekend, Air Force, Cal Baptist and St. Francis will all play each other twice. In addition, Lindenwood will get one game against each team while also playing several contests against the Falcons' `B' team.
The primary schedule for the weekend is listed below:
Friday, Sept. 11
4:00 p.m. Lindenwood vs. Cal Baptist
7:30 p.m. Air Force vs. Cal Baptist
Saturday, Sept. 12
8:00 a.m. St. Francis vs. Cal Baptist
11:30 a.m. Air Force vs. Cal Baptist
3:00 p.m. Air Force vs. St. Francis
7:00 p.m. St. Francis vs. Cal Baptist
Sunday, Sept. 13
9:00 a.m. Air Force vs. St. Francis
11:30 a.m. Air Force vs. Lindenwood
2:00 p.m. St. Francis vs. Lindenwood
Last Time Out...
Air Force competed at the Triton Invitational last weekend to open its season, compiling a 2-2 record. After falling to sixth-ranked Loyola Marymount and top-ranked USC on day one, the Falcons picked up wins over Pomona-Pitzer (11-4) and No. 10 UC San Diego (14-12).
Junior Bobby Geiger was the team's leading scorer for the weekend, tallying 11 goals and four assists, while freshman Cruz Smithson added eight goals and three assists. Geiger and Smithson notched five goals each in the Falcons' upset win over the host Tritons.
Scouting the Lancers...
The Cal Baptist Lancers, receiving votes in the latest national coaches poll, open the 2009 season this weekend. Last year, the Lancers posted a 29-11 overall record.
Cal Baptist is coached by Rick Rowland, in his 11th year at the helm of the program. The Lancers' top returner is junior Aaron Steiger, who led the nation in scoring in 2008 with 109 goals on the year.
Scouting the Terriers...
The St. Francis Terriers, ranked 15th in the latest national poll, enters this weekend's tournament with a 3-1 record. The Terriers opened their season last weekend at the MIT Invitational, registering wins over MIT, Claremont and Redlands, while falling to 13th-ranked Pacific.
St. Francis is coached by Igor Samardzija, in his first year leading the program. Among the top returners for the Terriers this season are junior goalkeeper Nikola Djuric, a first-team CWPA All-North selection in 2008, and Pedja Predin, who was named a second-team CWPA All-North selection last year.
This weekend marks the 19th overall meeting between Air Force and Cal Baptist, with the Falcons holding a 10-8 edge in the all-time series. The teams played each other twice in 2008, with the Lancers capturing victories in both contests.
Air Force and St. Francis have met just twice before, with the Terriers winning both previous contests. Both games were one-point victories for St. Francis, with the Terriers winning 7-6 in 2003 and 8-7 in 2005.
A Historic Win...
Air Force's win over UC San Diego last weekend was an impressive accomplishment, marking its first victory over a top 10 team in the past six seasons (national rankings are unavailable prior to 2004). It was also just the fourth win over a top-15 team for the Falcons since 2004. Air Force defeated 13th-ranked UC Davis in 2006, while posting wins over No. 14 UC San Diego and No. 15 Santa Clara in the 2007 WWPA Tournament.
Moving Up in the Polls...
After entering the season ranked 19th in the national coaches poll, Air Force has moved up to 12th place in the rankings. The Falcons' seven-spot jump was the largest one-week improvement for previously ranked teams in this week's men's varsity top 20 poll.
Air Force's current ranking of 12th in the nation is its highest during the tenure of head coach Jeff Ehrlich, who is now in his 11th season at the helm of the program. The previous high ranking for the Falcons under Ehrlich was 13th, last acheived in November 2007.
In the Record Books...
Senior Alex Churnside currently sits among the Academy's top 25 career scorers, ranking tied for 15th with 195 career points (111g, 84a). Churnside just needs 22 points to break into the top 10. Meanwhile, Churnside is only 12 assists away from moving into the top five in the Falcons' record book for career assists.
In addition, two other Air Force players--senior captain Jack Hines and junior Bobby Geiger--could move into the top-25 scoring list by the end of the season. Hines (119 points) and Geiger (117 points) need to reach the benchmark of 162 career points to move into the top 25 past 1978 graduate John Wellsfry.
Air Force heads to Stanford, Calif., next weekend, Sept. 19-20, for the annual NorCal Invitational. The tournament features 16 teams, all of which are currently ranked among the nation's top 18.
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