BERKELEY, Calif. – The 20th-ranked Air Force water polo suffered a pair of losses on the first day of action at the annual NorCal Invitational, hosted this year by Cal. The Falcons fell to the fourth-ranked host Golden Bears, 17-8, before coming up short in a 12-11 loss to eighth-ranked Loyola Marymount.
In their first game of the day, the Falcons (0-6) fell into an early hole against the Golden Bears. Cal took a 6-0 lead after one period and held a 8-0 advantage before junior Dominic Vicino (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) put Air Force on the board with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
A score from Kevin Womack (So., Redlands, Calif.) cut the Falcons’ deficit to six points, but Air Force never got any closer, trailing 9-2 at the half and 14-5 after three periods. Meanwhile, Cal led by as many as 10 goals in the last minute of regulation before Brad Duncan (Sr., Fresno, Calif.) found the back of the net with two seconds remaining to account for the final score. The Falcons had seven different goal scorers against the Golden Bears, led by senior captain Josh Stedman (Brea, Calif.) with two goals.
In the second game, Air Force faced off against conference foe Loyola Marymount. The teams played evenly in the first half, with the score tied at 2-2 after one period and 5-5 at the intermission. The Falcons pulled ahead in the third quarter, with goals from Vicino, Stedman, Andy Santala (So., Aliso Viejo, Calif.) and Petar Jackovich (Jr., New Lenox, Ill.) giving Air Force a 9-7 lead at the 3:42 mark in the period. However, the Lions closed out the quarter on a 4-0 run to take an 11-9 advantage into the final stanza.
The Falcons pulled within a single goal twice in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get any closer in the one-goal loss. Leading Air Force’s offense against Loyola Marymount was Jackovich with three goals, while Stedman and Santala added two scores each.
The Falcons wrap up competition at the Triton Invitational tomorrow with two more contests, beginning with a game versus UC San Diego at 9:25 a.m. (PT). Air Force will then take on either Santa Clara or Diablo Valley College in its final contest of the day. Both of the Falcons’ games on Sunday will be played at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif.