Air Force Prepares for Busy Weekend in Southern California

    Sophomore Josh Stedman

    Sophomore Josh Stedman

    Sept. 28, 2011

    Weekly Release #4 Get Acrobat Reader

    The Air Force water polo team is back in action this Friday, Sept. 30, with a road game at conference opponent Chapman. The Falcons then close out the weekend at the SoCal Tournament, hosted this year by Long Beach State.

    The Falcons will take on second-ranked UCLA in their first game of the tournament, before facing either No. 8 UC Santa Barbara or No. 12 UC San Diego on Saturday afternoon. Air Force will play both of its games on Saturday at the Joint Forces Training Center in Los Alamitos, Calif. Meanwhile, Sunday's opponents (and game location) will be determined based on the results of Saturday's contests.

    The 2011 SoCal Tournament features 16 teams, 15 of which are ranked in the latest national poll, including 14 of the top 15 teams in the country.

    The teams in this weekend's tournament are broken down into four pools. Pool A includes top-ranked USC, No. 7 UC Irvine, No. 9 UC Davis and No. 20 Pomona-Pitzer, while Air Force is featured in Pool B along with second-ranked UCLA, No. 8 UC Santa Barbara and No. 12 UC San Diego. Pool C is comprised of No. 3 Cal, No. 6 Pacific, No. 11 Loyola Marymount and No. 15 Santa Clara, while fourth-ranked Stanford, No. 5 Pepperdine, No. 13 Long Beach State and No. 14 Princeton will play in Bracket D.

    Air Force opened its home slate against 10th-ranked UC San Diego last weekend, dropping a 13-6 contest to the visiting Tritons. Sophomore Andrew Hamilton was the leading scorer for the Falcons, registering three goals, while junior goalkeeper Mike Fish registered four saves in a fourth-period shutout of UCSD.

    The Air Force Falcons, receiving votes in the latest national coaches poll, enter this weekend with a 3-6 overall record, including a 1-3 mark in the Western Water Polo Association.

    Junior Cruz Smithson (13g, 3a) and sophomores Andrew Hamilton (15g, 1a) and Josh Stedman (11g, 5a) lead the Falcons' in scoring through the first nine games of the season with 16 points each. Hamilton's 15 goals on the season lead the team, while junior Dillon Fisher has recorded a team-best nine assists.

    The Chapman Panthers currently hold a 5-6 overall record and 1-3 mark in the WWPA and will visit Vanguard before playing Air Force this Friday.

    Chapman is coached by Eric Ploessel, in his fifth year at the helm of the program. Freshman Chase Middlesworth leads the Panthers with 18 goals and nine assists on the season, while senior David Carson has added 14 goals and 12 assists.

    The UCLA Bruins, ranked second in the latest national poll, enter this weekend with a 7-1 overall record. The Bruins are coming off a pair of 11-7 victories, defeating Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount last week.

    UCLA is coached by Adam Wright, in his third year at the helm of the program. Senior Brett Hays and junior Josh Samuels lead the Bruins with 13 goals each on the season, while freshman Paul Reynolds has tallied 12 goals.

    The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, ranked eighth in the latest national poll, currently hold an 8-4 overall record. The Gauchos split a pair of home games last weekend, defeating Pomona-Pitzer, while falling to Concordia.

    UCSB is coached by Wolf Wigo, in his seventh year at the helm of the program. Sophomore Matt Gronow has notched a team-leading 34 points (26g, 8a), while junior Jesse Gillespie (14g, 8a) and freshman Chase Racich (18g, 3a) have added 22 and 21 points, respectively.

    The UC San Diego Tritons, ranked 12th in the latest national poll, currently hold an 8-2 overall record and 6-2 mark in the WWPA. The Tritons fell to conference rival Loyola Marymount before earning a victory over Air Force last week.

    UCSD is coached by Denny Harper, in his 32nd year at the helm of the program. Senior Graham Saber is the Tritons' leading scorer with 33 goals and 10 assists on the season, while junior Brian Donohoe (15g, 16a) is second on the team with 31 points.

    Friday's contest between Air Force and Chapman will be the 17th in the all-time series, with the Falcons winning all 16 previous contests, including three games in 2010.

    This weekend's meeting between Air Force and UCLA is the 23rd in the all-time series, with the Bruins undefeated against the Falcons. The two teams faced each other earlier this season, as UCLA earned a 21-4 victory at the NorCal Tournament on Sept. 17.

    Should Air Force face UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, it would mark the 33rd meeting in the all-time series, with the Gauchos holding a 28-4 advantage. The last meeting between the two teams came in 2009, when UCSB earned a 15-5 victory.

    A meeting between Air Force and UC San Diego this weekend would be the 69th in the all-time series, with the Tritons holding a 54-14 advantage. UCSD won two previous contests against Air Force this season, including a 13-6 decision last weekend at the Academy.

    UP NEXT...
    The Falcons are off next weekend, but return to action Oct. 14, when they host WWPA rival Loyola Marymount in a 7:00 p.m. contest.



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