No. 13 Air Force Closes Out Regular Season on the Road
Junior Max Reilly

Oct. 31, 2012

Weekly Release #8 Get Acrobat Reader

The 13th-ranked Air Force water polo team wraps up its regular-season schedule this weekend, Nov. 2-4, with three road Western Water Polo Association contests. The Falcons visit Pomona-Pitzer on Friday, No. 11 Loyola Marymount on Saturday and Whittier on Sunday.

Air Force swept four games in its own tournament last weekend, defeating No. 19 Cal Baptist (11-8/19-10) and Fresno Pacific (16-7/19-12).

Junior Josh Stedman was the leading point scorer for the Falcons over the weekend, registering 16 points (10g, 6a), while classmate Max Reilly added 15 points (4g, team-best 11a). In addition, sophomore Petar Jackovich shared the team lead with 10 goals on the weekend, including a career-best four goals in the Falcons' win over Fresno Pacific on Saturday morning.

The Air Force Falcons, ranked 13th in the latest national coaches poll, enter this weekend with a 14-9 overall record, including a 7-3 mark in the Western Water Polo Association.

Junior Josh Stedman currently leads the Falcons with 65 points on the season, including a team-high 49 goals, while seniors Brad Rajchel have added 45 (26g, 19a) and Cruz Smithson (30g, 12a) points, respectively. Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Mike Fish has tallied 282 saves on the year.

The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, receiving votes in this week's coaches poll, enter this weekend with a 10-13 overall record, having won seven of their last eight contests, and a 4-5 mark in the WWPA. The Sagehens, who visit Chapman before hosting Air Force this weekend, played two games on Saturday, falling to UC San Diego, 12-3, while defeating Caltech, 18-6.

Pomona-Pitzer is coached by Alex Rodriguez, in his seventh year at the helm of the program. Senior Ryan Higgins and junior Jason Cox lead the Sagehens with 30 goals each on the season, while freshman Phillip Clayman has added 26 goals.

The Loyola Marymount Lions, ranked 11th in the latest coaches poll, currently hold a 13-9 overall record and 9-2 mark in the WWPA. The Lions are coming off a pair of road conference victories, defeating UC Davis, 9-8, and Santa Clara, 12-7.

Loyola Marymount is coached by John Loughran, in his 16th year leading the program. Freshman Milutin Mitrovic leads the Lions' offense with 57 goals and 19 assists on the season, while junior John Mikuzis has added 34 goals. Senior Collin Walters is second on the team in total points with 25 goals and a team-best 24 assists, while senior Kyle Testman has registered 220 saves as LMU's starting goalkeeper.

The Whittier Poets currently hold a 10-13 record on the season, including a 5-7 mark against WWPA opponents. The Poets are coming off a 14-11 loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, and will host Chapman before taking on the Falcons on Sunday.

Whittier is coached by Justin Pudwill, in his sixth year at the helm of the program.

Friday's contest between Air Force and Pomona-Pitzer will be the 21st meeting in the all-time series, with the Falcons holding an 18-2 advantage. Air Force won the only match-up between the two teams last season, a 9-5 decision on the road.

This weekend, Air Force and Loyola Marymount will meet for the 46th time, with the Lions holding a 24-21 advantage in the all-time series. LMU won both games against the Falcons in 2011, a 7-5 decision at the Triton Invitational and a 10-7 contest at the Academy.

Sunday's game between Air Force and Whittier is the 15th in the series, with the Falcons holding a 13-1 advantage. Air Force won the last meeting between the two teams, an 11-10 road win last season.

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 219 points (163 goals, 56 assists), currently ranks 12th all-time at the Academy in career points, and needs four more points to move into a tie for 11th place. Smithson is also six goals away from breaking into the top-five list for career goals.

Senior goalkeeper Mike Fish became the latest Falcon to move into the Academy's record books. With 282 saves this season, Fish now has 593 save for his career, ranking fifth in program history, and needs just 19 more stops to move into a tie for fourth place.

Air Force scored 19 goals in back-to-back wins over Fresno Pacific and Cal Baptist over the weekend, marking the highest single-game scoring total for the Falcons since 1993, when they tallied 24 goals in a win over Caltech.

Sophomore Petar Jackovich became the latest water polo player to earn Air Force Athlete of the Week honors this season, as he was named a co-recipient of the award on Oct. 29.

Jackovich received the honor for his performance in the Falcons' home tournament, where he shared the team lead with 10 goals. Jackovich, who entered the weekend with just six goals on the season, notched a team-best and career-high four goals in a 16-7 win over Fresno Pacific. He also added two assists, four drawn ejections and a drawn penalty on the weekend.

The Falcons host Denver Masters in an exhibition next Saturday, Nov. 11, while heading to Whittier, Calif., for the annual Western Water Polo Association Championship Nov. 16-18.



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