Falcons' Water Polo Preparing For Pomona
The Falcons' water polo team is off this week and using its rest time to regain its strength and prepare for its matches in Pomona, Sept. 30, where Air Force will be facing Pomona, Redlands, La Verne and Claremont.
The Falcons defeated Pomona and La Verne earlier this season at the Triton Tournament in San Diego. Pomona will be another opportunity for Air Force to compete against teams who are in their conference. "Our focus is finding out who the teams are in our conference we have to beat to get to the WWPA Championships in Hawaii," said Falcons' head coach Jeff Ehrlich.
Air Force is coming off of a disappointing weekend, losing to Navy in a match on Friday, and losing three more matches in the Southern California Tournament to Stanford, Univ. of the Pacific, and Pepperdine. Air Force faced Navy again in their final match of the tournament, defeating the Midshipmen 11-7. Despite this past weekend's record, Ehrlich still supports their scheduling. "My philosophy on scheduling is that if you play teams that are better than you, you get better. If you play teams that are worse than you, you look better. We could have an easier schedule, but then we're not going to get to where we want to be," sad Ehrlich.
"The final win over Navy was one of our high points this season; to come back and defeat a team who was ranked ninth in the nation," said Ehrlich. Air Force are currently ranked 11th after this past weekend, moving up a slot from 12th in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's rankings.
Coach Ehrlich's focus now is on preparing the team for its matches in Pomona. "Essentially, most of the teams in our conference play all summer long. It takes us a bit longer to catch up because of our practices beginning so late," said Ehrlich. Most of the teams in our conference also have the opportunity to compete on a much more regular basis because of the other schools being so close to one another, said Ehrlich. To compensate for the lack of matches, the Falcons are creating competition situations in practice. All of Air Force's matches are in California, which is where all of the schools in their conference happen to be located. The only match scheduled outside of California is the Air Force Tournament, to be held at the Cadet Natatorium, the Falcons' home pool.
One of the top players so far this season has been co-captain and starting goalie, C1C Charlie Toth, with 81 saves in the nine games they've played. "The goalie is like the quarterback on a football team. The buck stops with him. He has the final say on whether or not the ball is getting in the cage," said Ehrlich. Other top scorers and key players have been C1C Derek Argel with 14 goals; C1C Brent Reimer with 13 goals; Chad Simendinger with 11 goals; and newcomer C4C Scott Butler, also with 11 goals.
The Falcons are still at the beginning of their season and at the end of what coach Ehrlich referred to as their "pre-season". With Pomona coming up in one more week, and the Air Force Tournament on Oct. 14, the Falcons are prepared for the challenges ahead.
"Our primary goal is to go to Hawaii in November and to do well in the WWPA Championships," said Ehrlich.