No. 13 Air Force Returns to Action on the Road
Senior Garrett Womack

Oct. 17, 2012

Weekly Release #6 Get Acrobat Reader

The 13th-ranked Air Force water polo team is back on the road this week, visiting 11th-ranked conference foe UC San Diego on Thursday, Oct. 18, while competing in The Rodeo, hosted by Santa Clara, Oct. 20-21. At The Rodeo, the Falcons will face No. 12 Brown, No. 17 Bucknell, No. 4 Stanford and Fresno Pacific.

Live video and audio will be available for the Falcons' game at UC San Diego. Access is free, but requires a subscription login. Visit for more information.

Leading by as many as six goals in the fourth quarter, Air Force earned a 15-11 victory over 17th-ranked conference foe UC Davis Saturday afternoon at the Cadet Natatorium.

Senior captain Brad Rajchel was the leading goal scorer for the Falcons with four goals, while junior Max Reilly added three goals and two assists.

The Air Force Falcons, ranked 13th in the latest national coaches poll, enter this weekend with an 8-6 overall record, including a 7-2 mark in the Western Water Polo Association.

Junior Josh Stedman currently leads the Falcons with 36 points on the season, including a team-high 27 goals, while senior Cruz Smithson has added 27 points (18 goals and nine assists). Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Mike Fish has tallied 180 saves on the year.

The UC San Diego Tritons, ranked 11th in this week's coaches poll, currently hold a 7-6 overall record on the season and 6-2 mark in the WWPA. The Tritons are coming off an 11-8 home loss to No. 10 Long Beach State.

UC San Diego is coached by Denny Harper, in his 33rd year at the helm of the program. Josh Stiling leads the Tritons' offense with 49 goals on the season, while John Butler has a team-high 27 assists.

The Brown Bears, ranked 12th in this week's coaches poll, enter this weekend with an 18-2 overall record on the year and are coming off a 23-9 victory over Harvard.

Brown is coached by Felix Mercado, in his sixth year at the helm of the program. Junior James McNamara is the leading point scorer for the Bears, with 34 goals and a team-best 56 assists on the year. Meanwhile, senior Svetozar Stefanovic and sophomore Henry Fox have added 69 and 55 goals, respectively.

The Bucknell Bison, ranked tied for 17th in this week's coaches poll, enter this weekend with a 9-10 overall record. The Bison compiled a 3-1 record last weekend, defeating Johns Hopkins, George Washington and No. 16 Princeton, while falling to No. 14 Navy (17-11).

Bucknell is coached by John McBride, in his second season leading the program. Freshman Stefan Aleksic has registered a team-best 63 points on the season (33g, 30a), while junior Alex Nowlin is close behind with 61 points (24g, team-high 37a). Senior Brian Barron has added 56 points (36g, 20a), while junior Jack Else has registered a team-leading 38 goals on the season.

The Stanford Cardinal, ranked fourth in this week's coaches poll, currently holds an 8-3 overall record on the season, and is coming off a pair of victories over second-ranked UC Santa Barbara (9-7) and eighth-ranked Pepperdine (11-6).

Stanford is coached by John Vargas, in his 11th year at the helm of the program. Sophomore Alex Bowen leads the Cardinal's offense with 28 goals, followed closely by freshman Bret Bonanni with 26 goals on the year.

The Fresno Pacific Sunbirds currently hold an 10-7 overall record and are coming off a 20-9 home loss to No. 20 Concordia.

Fresno Pacific is coached by Bryan Suhovy, in his fourth year leading the program.

This week's game between Air Force and UC San Diego will be the 72nd in the all-time series, with the Tritons holding a 57-14 advantage. The two teams have already met twice this season, with UCSD coming away with both victories, an 8-7 double-overtime decision at the NorCal Tournament, and a 9-3 decision at the SoCal Tournament.

This weekend's contest between Air Force and Brown is the 20th in the series, with the Falcons holding a slight 10-9 advantage. Brown won the last match-up between the two teams, a 12-10 decision at The Rodeo in 2011.

The all-time series between Air Force and Bucknell is tied at 5-5, with the Falcons edging out the Bison, 8-7, at The Rodeo in 2010.

Air Force and Stanford will meet for the 21st time this weekend, with the Cardinal undefeated against the Falcons. Stanford captured a 16-3 victory over Air Force at The Rodeo last season.

Air Force and Fresno Pacific have met just once before, with the Falcons capturing a 10-5 victory over the Sunbirds at the Concordia Tournament in 2010.

With his 10 points in the opening weekend of competition, senior Cruz Smithson moved onto the Falcons' list of top-20 all-time scorers. Smithson, who now has 204 points (151 goals, 53 assists), currently ranks 15th all-time at the Academy in career points, and needs six more points to move into a tie for 14th place.

Senior captain Brad Rajchel became the third different Falcon to earn conference accolades this season, receiving KAP7 Western Water Polo Association Player of the Week honors on Oct. 17.

Rajchel helped lead Air Force to its 15-11 victory over nationally ranked conference rival UC Davis, scoring a team-high four goals against the Aggies. He tallied all four of his scores in the first half, including three in the second period to help the Falcons pull away in the win.

The Falcons close out their home schedule next weekend, Oct. 26-28, as they host Cal Baptist and Fresno Pacific in a three-day tournament.



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