Air Force Honored with WWPA End of Season Awards
Nov. 18, 2009
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
A total of four Air Force water polo players, along with head coach Jeff Ehrlich, were honored by the Western Water Polo Association today, as the WWPA released its annual awards, voted on by the league's coaches. The Falcons captured two of the three major awards, as Ehrlich was named Coach of the Year, while freshman Cruz Smithson was named Newcomer of the Year. Meanwhile, seniors Alex Churnside, Jack Hines and David Ostrom represented Air Force on this year's all-conference teams.
Ehrlich receives the first WWPA Coach of the Year honors of his career after leading the Falcons to a 17-12 overall record and 10-4 ledger in the WWPA. Under his guidance, Air Force knocked off a top-10 team (then-10th-ranked UC San Diego) for the first time in the past six seasons, while also posting three other top-15 victories, including the Falcons' first win over Pacific since 1995. In addition, he helped the Falcons earn the second seed in this weekend's conference championship, as Air Force seeks to capture its first WWPA title since 1994.
Smithson, a utility player from Capistrano Beach, Calif., had a strong rookie campaign to become the first Falcon to earn WWPA Newcomer of the Year accolades. Also a member of the WWPA All-Freshman Team, Smithson finished the season tied for second on the team in goals scored with 39, while also adding 17 assists to finish the regular season with 56 points (tied for third-best on the team).
Churnside, an honorable mention All-WWPA selection in 2008, earned first-team all-conference honors for his performance this season. A utility player from Orange, Calif., Churnside ranks second on the team in total points with 74, while leading the Falcons in assists with a career-best 46 and steals with 57. He ranks among the top five scorers in Air Force history with 264 career points (136g, 128a) and is also third in career assists.
Hines, a native of Riverside, Calif., captured second-team All-WWPA honors for the second-straight season, after finishing the regular season with 39 goals (ranking tied for second on the team) and 17 assists. He also ranks second on the team in steals with 47.5 on the season. Primarily a 2-meter defender, Hines currently ranks 24th on the Falcons' all-time scoring list with 169 career points (113 g, 56a).
Finally, Ostrom, a goalkeeper from Mission Viejo, Calif., received honorable mention recognition for his performance this season. Ostrom has tallied 193 saves this season while sharing time in the cage, while also tallying 10 points on the year, including three goals. The third-year starter currently ranks third in Air Force history in career saves with 648.
While Ehrlich and Smithson earned the Coach of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors, the Player of the Year went to goalkeeper Andy Stevens of Loyola Marymount. Stevens, who repeats as the conference's top player, led LMU to a national ranking as high as No. 5. He was also instrumental in leading the Lions, the top-seed in this weekend's tournament, to the nation's third-ranked team defense, allowing just 6.13 goals per game.
Air Force will head to the 2009 Western Water Polo Association Championship, hosted by Chapman, this weekend, Nov. 20-22. The second-seeded Falcons will face seventh-seed Whittier in their first game, slated for Friday at 10:00 a.m. (PT).
2009 Western Water Polo Association Men's Water Polo Honors
Player of the Year: Andy Stevens (Jr.) - GK - Loyola Marymount
Newcomer of the Year: Cruz Smithson (Fr.) - Utility - Air Force
Coach of the Year: Jeff Ehrlich - Air Force
Andrew Aki (Jr., Utility) - Loyola Marymount
Alex Churnside (Sr., Utility) - Air Force
Steven Donohoe (Sr., Utility) - UC San Diego
Ryan Floersch (Sr., Center) - Redlands
Carlos Martinez (Jr., Utility) - UC Davis
Andy Stevens (Jr., Goalie) - Loyola Marymount
Jack Wall (Sr., Driver) - Santa Clara
Edgaras Asajavicius (So., Driver) - Loyola Marymount
Tibor Forai (Jr., Utility) - Loyola Marymount
Peter Gresham (Sr., 2M Defense) - UC San Diego
Ben Hadley (Jr., Utility) - Pomona-Pitzer
Jack Hines (Sr., 2M Defense) - Air Force
Cory Lyle (Jr., Attack) - UC Davis
Alex Mule (Sr., Utility) - Chapman
Nick Poggetti (Jr., 2M Offense) - Santa Clara
Casey Regehr (Sr., Goalie) - Whittier
Honorable Mention All-WWPA
Brian Chong (So., Utility) - Claremont
Rilesh Desai (Jr., Attack) - Whittier
Liam Farrell (Sr., Utility) - Santa Clara
Matt Heagy (Sr., 2M Offense) - Cal Lutheran
David Ostrom (Sr., Goalie) - Air Force
WWPA All-Freshman Team
Brian Baier - Claremont
John Butler - UC San Diego
Colin Hicks - UC Davis
Mark Hudall - Pomona-Pitzer
Taylor Roszkos (GK) - Chapman
Cruz Smithson - Air Force
Patrick Weiss - Santa Clara