Nov. 16, 2011
Weekly Release #9
The 20th-ranked Air Force water polo team heads to La Jolla, Calif., this week, Nov. 17-20, for the 2011 Western Water Polo Association Championship, hosted by UC San Diego. The Falcons, seeded fifth in this week's tournament, will face 12th-seed Occidental in the opening game of the championship, slated for 1:30 p.m. (PT) on Thursday.
Following is the seeding for this week's conference championship, with national rankings in parentheses:
1. Loyola Marymount (10)
2. UC San Diego (11)
3. Santa Clara (14)
4. UC Davis (12)
5. Air Force (20)
6. Pomona-Pitzer (RV)
8. Redlands (RV)
11. La Verne
Thursday, Nov. 17
Game 1: No. 5 Air Force vs. No. 12 Occidental - 1:30 pm
Game 2: No. 6 Pomona-Pitzer vs. No. 11 LaVerne - 3:00 pm
Game 3: No. 7 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs. No. 10 Whittier - 4:30 pm
Game 4: No. 8 Redlands vs. No. 9 Chapman - 6:00 pm
**Seeds No. 1 through No. 4 earn a bye in the first round
Friday, Nov. 18
Game 5: Loser of Game #1 vs. Loser of Game #4 - 10:30 am
Game 6: Loser of Game #2 vs. Loser of Game #3 - 12:00 pm
Game 7: No. 4 UC Davis vs. Winner of Game #1 - 1:30 pm
Game 8: No. 3 Santa Clara vs. Winner of Game #2 - 3:00 pm
Game 9: No. 2 UC San Diego vs. Winner of Game #3 - 4:30 pm
Game 10: No. 1 LMU vs. Winner of Game #4 - 6:00 pm
Saturday, Nov. 19
Game 11: 11th Place Game - Loser Game #4 vs. Loser Game #6 - 10:30 am
Game 12: Ninth Place Game - Winner Game #5 vs. Winner Game #6 - 12:00 pm
Game 13: Semifinal #1 - Winner Game #7 vs. Winner Game #10 - 1:30 pm
Game 14: Semifinal #2 - Winner Game #8 vs. Winner Game #9 - 3:00 pm
Game 15: Loser Game #7 vs. Loser Game #10 - 4:30 pm
Game 16: Loser Game #8 vs. Loser Game #9 - 6:00 pm
Sunday, Nov. 20
Game 17: Seventh Place Game - Loser Game 15 vs. Loser Game 16 - 9:30 am
Game 18: Fifth Place Game - Winner Game 15 vs. Winner Game 16 - 11 am
Game 19: Third Place Game - Loser Game 13 vs. Loser Game 14 - 12:30 pm
Game 20: Championship Game - Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14 - 2:00 pm
LAST YEAR AT THE WWPA's...
Top-seeded Loyola Marymount won its fourth-straight conference title with a win over UC Davis at the 2010 WWPA Championship, hosted by Santa Clara.
Meanwhile, Air Force, seeded seventh in the tournament, finished fifth with a win over Redlands on the final day of competition. The Falcons defeated Chapman in the opening round before falling to UC Davis. Air Force then posted wins over Pomona-Pitzer and Redlands to finish the weekend.
LAST TIME OUT...
Air Force went 2-1 in its final weekend of regular season competition, defeating conference foes Whittier (11-10) and Pomona-Pitzer (9-5), while dropping a 12-7 contest to seventh-ranked Long Beach State.
Leading Air Force's offense on the weekend was junior Cruz Smithson, who recorded eight goals and three assists, including five goals in the Falcons' win over Pomona-Pitzer. Meanwhile, sophomores Andrew Hamilton and Josh Stedman added four goals each.
SCOUTING THE FALCONS...
The fifth-seeded Air Force Falcons, ranked 20th in this week's coaches poll, closed out the regular season with an 8-16 overall record and 5-7 mark in the Western Water Polo Association.
Junior Cruz Smithson is the team's leading scorer with 58 points on the season, including a team-best 43 goals. Sophomore Josh Stedman is second on the team with 48 points (38g, 10a), while junior Dillon Fisher has added 44 points, including a team-leading 36 assists.
SCOUTING THE LIONS...
The 10th-ranked Loyola Marymount Lions, seeded first in this year's WWPA Championship, finished the regular season with a 15-7 overall record and 10-1 mark in the WWPA.
LMU is coached by John Loughran, in his 15th season at the helm of the program. Leading the Lions is senior Edgaras Asajavicius, who was named the WWPA Player of the Year, while freshman Joe Ferretti was named the conference's Newcomer of the Year. Also earning all-conference recognition this season were first-team honoree Jon Colton and honorable mention selection Kyle Testman.
SCOUTING THE TRITONS...
The host UC San Diego Tritons, ranked 11th in the nation and seeded second in this year's championship, finished the regular season with a 14-9 overall record and 12-3 mark in the WWPA.
UC San Diego is led by WWPA Coach of the Year Denny Harper, in his 32nd season at the helm of the program. The Tritons had a pair of first-team All-WWPA selections, including John Butler, who has recorded 29 goals and a team-best 38 assists and goalkeeper David Morton. Earning second-team honors were Graham Saber, who has a team-best 70 goals and 87 points, and Brian Donohoe, with 26 goals and 33 assists.
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS...
The Santa Clara Broncos, ranked 14th nationally, are seeded third in this year's tournament with a finished the regular season with a 16-16 overall record and 7-5 mark against WWPA foes.
Santa Clara is coached by Keith Wilbur, in his 10th season at the helm of the program. The Broncos are led by first-team All-WWPA selection James Case, who has recorded a team-best 74 points (38g, 36a), Theo Nasser, who has notched a team-leading 41 goals, and honorable mention all-conference selection Daley Meistrell, who has recorded 43 assists on the year. In addition, goalkeeper Michael Wishart is a second-team All-WWPA pick with 281 saves on the season.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES...
The 12th-ranked UC Davis Aggies, the fourth seed in this year's WWPA Championship, concluded the regular season with a 20-11 overall record and 11-4 mark in the WWPA.
UC Davis is coached by Steve Doten, in his 11th season at the helm of the program. First-team All-WWPA honoree Aaron Salit leads the conference with 75 goals on the season, while second-team all-conference selection Colin Hicks adds 30 goals and 19 assists.
SCOUTING THE SAGEHENS...
The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, seeded sixth in this year's tournament and receiving votes in this week's coaches poll, enter this weekend with a 13-18 overall record and 8-6 mark against WWPA foes. The Sagehens recently captured the 2011 SCIAC Championship.
Pomona-Pitzer is coached by Alex Rodriguez, in his seventh season at the helm of the program. Among the leaders for the Sagehens is second-team all-conference honoree Mark Hudnall.
SCOUTING THE STAGS...
The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags, seeded seventh in this year's tournament, enter this weekend with a 15-11 overall record and 6-2 mark against WWPA foes. The Stags finished as runner-up at the 2011 SCIAC Championship.
Claremont is coached by Greg Lonzo, in his fifth season at the helm of the program. Among the leaders for the Stags is second-team all-conference selection Brian Chong.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS...
The Redlands Bulldogs, seeded eighth in this year's tournament and receiving votes in the latest coaches poll, enter this week's tournament with a 16-17 overall record and 6-8 mark against WWPA competition.
Redlands is coached by Tom Whittemore, in his 24th season at the helm of the program. Earning honorable mention All-WWPA recognition for the Bulldogs this season were seniors Jeff Parsons and Blake vanHartesvelt.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS...
The Chapman Panthers, seeded ninth in this year's tournament, enter this weekend with a 13-13 overall record and 4-7 mark against WWPA foes.
Chapman is coached by Eric Ploessel, in his fifth season at the helm of the program. The Panthers are led by honorable mention all-conference selection Brett Carter, who has scored a team-best 53 goals this season.
SCOUTING THE POETS...
The Whittier Poets, seeded 10th in this year's tournament, enter this weekend with a 11-19 overall ledger and 4-10 mark against WWPA opponents.
Whittier is coached by Justin Pudwill, in his fifth season at the helm of the program. The Poets are led by honorable mention All-WWPA honoree Erick Gonzalez, the reigning Newcomer of the Year.
SCOUTING THE LEOPARDS...
The La Verne Leopards, seeded 11th in this year's tournament, enter this weekend with a 6-25 overall ledger and 2-10 mark against WWPA opponents.
La Verne is coached by Alex La, in his fifth season at the helm of the program. Goalkeeper Dan Newell was recognized by the WWPA, earning a spot on the All-Freshman team.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS...
The Occidental Tigers, seeded 12th at this weekend's championship, currently holds a 7-22 overall record and 1-13 ledger versus WWPA opponents.
Occidental is coached by Larry Zubrin, in his ninth season at the helm of the program. Junior Tai McDermott was a second-team All-WWPA pick this year, tallying 41 goals, 26 assists and a team-best 34 steals. Meanwhile, Joe Reynolds has a team-best 87 points (40g, 47a) and Brendan Whitmore leads the Tigers with 48 goals on the year.
Three Air Force players earned recognition from the WWPA this season, led by first-team all-conference selection Josh Stedman. Stedman, the second Falcon in the last three years to earn first-team accolades, was the only sophomore named to this year's All-WWPA first team. Junior Cruz Smithson, who leads Air Force in both goals and points, was named an honorable mention all-conference selection, while rookie Petar Jackovich was named to the WWPA All-Freshman team.
SMITHSON NAMED KAP7 WWPA PLAYER OF THE WEEK...
Junior Cruz Smithson was named the KAP7 Western Water Polo Association Player of the Week on Nov. 9. Smithson helped lead the Falcons to a 2-1 record over their final weekend of regular season competition, tallying eight goals, three assists and three steals. After registering a goal and an assist in Air Force's 11-10 victory over conference foe Whittier, Smithson notched a game-high five goals and added an assist and three steals in the Falcons' 9-5 conference win against Pomona-Pitzer. He was also Air Force's leading scorer against seventh-ranked Long Beach State, finishing the game with two goals and an assist.
Smithson was the second consecutive Falcon to receive WWPA Player of the Week recognition, following sophomore Josh Stedman who won the award on Nov. 2.
AIR FORCE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK...
Junior Cruz Smithson became the first Air Force water polo player this season to earn Air Force Athlete of the Week honors, following his performance in the Falcons' final weekend of the regular season. He helped lead Air Force to a 2-1 record over their final weekend of regular season competition, tallying eight goals, three assists and three steals in three games.
The winner of this week's tournament will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship, which is being held Dec. 3-4 in Berkeley, Calif.