USAFA, Colo. – Led by four goals each from seniors Andrew Hamilton (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) and Josh Stedman (Brea, Calif.), the 20th-ranked Air Force water polo team earned an 11-8 victory over Mercyhurst on Sunday to close out its home tournament with a 3-0 record.
The Falcons (4-7) got out to a slow start, giving up a 2-0 advantage to the Lakers midway through the opening quarter. With strong play from Mercyhurst goalie Matt Cote, Air Force was unable to get on the scoreboard until the 1:32 mark in the first period with a 6-on-5 goal from Hamilton.
In the second period, Air Force took control, tying the game just 20 seconds into the quarter with the second goal of the day by Hamilton. The Falcons held Mercyhurst scoreless in the period and went into the intermission with a 4-2 lead.
While the Lakers cut their deficit back to one early in the third quarter, a tally from Stedman put Air Force back ahead by two goals. The teams alternated scores for the remainder of the period, but the Falcons took an 8-5 advantage into the final stanza.
Air Force gained a four-point lead two minutes into the fourth quarter, as Andy Santala (So., Aliso Viejo, Calif.) converted on a 5-meter penalty shot. The Lakers, receiving votes in the latest coaches poll, never got closer than three goals the rest of the way, as the Falcons held on for the 11-8 victory.
In addition to the eight combined scores from Hamilton and Stedman, classmate Brad Duncan (Fresno, Calif.) chipped in three assists. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Caleb Guarino (Diamond Bar, Calif.) recorded 13 stops against the Lakers.
The Falcons are off from competition next weekend, but will return to action Oct. 12-13 at the UC Irvine Invitational.
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