Oct. 13, 2004
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The 17th-ranked Air Force water polo team (2-13) hosts No. 18 Cal Baptist this weekend, Oct. 16-17, in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The two teams will play a total of three games on Saturday and Sunday, while the B teams for each school will get in four games, starting Friday evening. All games will be held in the Cadet Natatorium, and the schedule is as follows:
Fri., Oct. 15 `B' Teams 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 16 `A' Teams 10:00 a.m.
`B' Teams 11:15 a.m.
`A' Teams 5:00 p.m.
`B' Teams 6:15 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 17 `A' Teams 10:00 a.m.
`B' Teams 11:15 a.m.
Last Time Out...
The Falcons took a break last weekend after a grueling three-day trip to Stockton, Calif., Oct. 1-3 for Pacific's NorCal Tournament. Air Force started out with a Friday night loss to Pacific before even opening the tournament. However, the Falcons got off on the right foot in the first game of the tournament, defeating conference opponent Redlands, 8-7, to avenge an early season loss to the Bulldogs.
After advancing into the championship bracket with the victory over Redlands, the Falcons finished 16th in the tournament, dropping four games against top-notch teams--No. 2 USC, No. 11 Princeton, No. 12 Long Beach State and No. 9 Pepperdine.
Team MVPs for the weekend were senior captains Josh Jewett and Jared Jones, who each finished the weekend with a +18 on the stat sheets. Jewett tallied four goals and seven assists, while Jones notched 53 saves in goal. Meanwhile, senior Murphey Morgan led all scorers with seven goals and five assists.
Head Coach Jeff Ehrlich...
Head coach Jeff Ehrlich is in his sixth season at the helm of the Air Force water polo program. He came to the Academy in 1999 after a 25-year stint at Villa Park High School in Orange County, Calif.
Since his arrival at the Academy, Ehrlich has led the team to an 83-73 record. Additionally, the Falcons have been nationally ranked in the top 20 at the conclusion of each of Ehrlich's five seasons, with a best final ranking of 13th in 1999.
Scouting the Lancers...
The Cal Baptist Lancers, currently ranked 18th in the nation, enter this weekend's Showdown with a 10-9 overall record and have won their last six contests. The Lancers are led by high scorer Goran Milic, who has tallied 55 goals and 18 assists through the first 19 games of the season. In goal, Jon Miller leads with 146 saves.
Air Force and Cal Baptist have met 10 times before, with the series even at five games each. The teams last met on Oct. 26, 2003, as the Falcons captured a 12-9 victory in its home "East Meets West" Tournament.
Conference is the Key...
With its victory over Redlands in the first game of the NorCal Tournament, Air Force moved to 2-3 this season against WWPA opponents. The Falcons, which placed third at last year's WWPA Tournament, will likely face off against a few conference rivals at their final tournament of the year, the UC Davis Tournament. Additionally, Air Force has four conference match-ups scheduled the first weekend of November to prepare for this year's WWPA Tournament. Strong performances by the Falcons in the closing weeks of the season could enable them to fulfill their goal of finishing atop the conference.
Against the Best...
While Air Force's overall record may not be impressive, the quality of its competition has been. All 13 of the Falcons' losses this season have come against teams currently ranked among the nation's top 20, including two against defending national champion USC. Based on its strength of schedule, Air Force remains ranked among the nation's top teams, and should be able to use its early season experience against such powerful opponents to finish off the season on a high note.
In the Record Books...
Senior Murphey Morgan is continuing his assault on the Air Force record books. With his performance at the NorCal Tournament, Morgan moved into 10th place on the Academy's career scoring list with 212 points. He also sits in third place on the career assist list at the Academy with 110. Morgan is just the fourth player in Air Force history to record 100 goals and 100 assists in a career.
Oh Captain, My Captain...
Senior captains Josh Jewett and Jared Jones have been impressive for the Falcons this year, and will look to help the team to a strong finish in the final weeks of the season.
Jewett, who missed the 2004 spring season with an elbow injury, has been the top player for the Falcons, statistically speaking. He paces Air Force in drawn ejections, while ranking among the team's top two or three in every other major statistical category.
Jones, meanwhile, has taken over the starting goalkeeper job, replacing all-star Brandon Shroyer who graduated in 2004. Jones, the leader of the Falcon defense, has put together some stellar performances and racked up 53 saves during the NorCal Tournament. With that strong weekend, Jones now has 118 saves on the season.
The Falcons will get another rest next weekend before heading back to California for the UC Davis Tournament Oct. 30-31.