THIS WEEK: Air Force (0-4) travels to southern California for a pair of non-conference games this weekend. The Falcons will face California Lutheran on Friday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. PT and will then meet No. 6 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Sept. 16, at noon PT.
MOST RECENTLY: Air Force was idle last week. The Falcons opened the season at the annual Triton Tournament, hosted by UC San Diego, Sept. 2-3. The Falcons fell to No. 8 Long Beach State and No. 9 UC Davis the first day. On day two, the Falcons suffered two close losses to Concordia (13-12) and Loyola Marymount (16-12). Justin Harrison led the Falcons with nine goals in the four games.
INSIDE THE SERIES: Air Force holds an 8-0 lead in the series against Cal Lutheran. Last season, Air Force defeated CLU, 14-8. UC Santa Barbara holds a 30-4 advantage in the series against Air Force. Last season, the Gauchos defeated the Falcons, 20-7. Air Force’s last win in the series against UCSB came in 1996.
THE LIFE OF RILEY: Riley Thomas returns for his senior season as one of the most decorated Falcon water polo players in school history. He is one of just seven players to ever earn first-team all-WWPA honors in back-to-back seasons, joining Josh Steadman, (2011-13), Brian Pendergast (94-96), Criag Thomas (94-96), Garrett Lowe (93-94), David Chaney (89-91) and Howard Redd (90-91). A two-time team MVP, Thomas earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2015.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Senior captains Riley Thomas and Jack Empey lead a young team in 2017. Fifteen of the 23 players are either freshmen or sophomores. The Falcons have four seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and eight freshmen.
THE HEAD COACH: Jeff Heidmous, the winningest coach in program history, is in his 25th season coaching the Air Force water polo team. He coached the team from 1981-1998 and then spent 11 years working as a senior administrator in the Air Force athletic department. He returned as head coach of the Falcons in 2010. During his 24-year coaching tenure at the Academy, Heidmous has posted a 319-317-1 career record. He has led the Falcons to three WWPA titles, including 2012 when Air Force captured its first WWPA Championship since 1994. In 2012, the Falcons posted their best-ever NCAA finish, taking fourth place at the national tournament In 2012, Heidmous was tabbed the WWPA Coach of the Year for the third time in his career.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Falcons will play the first 10 games of the season on the road. The first home game is on Sept. 30 against defending WWPA champion UC Davis at the Cadet Natatorium.