#20 Air Force Men’s Water Polo Splits Games On First Two Days of Bucknell Invite

by SwimSwam 0

September 18th, 2023 NCAA/College Water Polo, Water Polo

Courtesy: Air Force Athletics

Day 1

20th-ranked Air Force men’s water polo (6-5) split a pair of games Saturday at the Bucknell Invite in Lewisburg, Pa.  The Falcons dropped its opener to #5 Princeton and rallied to defeat Wagner 16-8 in the nightcap.

In the opening game, Princeton rolled to a 13-2 win.  The game was close early, with Air Force trailing 3-1 after the first quarter and 4-2 at the half.

The Tigers scored two goals in the third to go up 6-2.  A 7-0 run in the fourth allowed Princeton to pull away.  Freshman Tom Leggett and sophomore Jackson Carter scored goals for the Falcons.

Against Wagner. the Falcons went up early and rolled to the 16-8 win.  The Falcons scored five goals in the opening quarter to take a 5-2 lead.  Air Force tacked on five more goals in the second to lead 10-3 at the half.  The Falcons out-scored Wagner 6-5 in the second half to roll to the win.

Leggett and sophomore Colin Chase led the Falcons with three goals each.

“It was a good day for the Falcons,” head coach Ryan Brown said.  We played really well defensively vs. Princeton.  Holding them to six goals through three quarters was great.  The biggest hurdle is we need to improve our offense.  We were balanced on offense and defense vs. Wagner.  We continued to play strong defense and were able to get our offense going.”

Air Force returns to action Sunday for day two at the Bucknell Invite.  The Falcons open against #5 Princeton and Wagner on Saturday in Lewisburg, Pa.

“Tomorrow we will have to keep the pace up on both ends against Long Island and Bucknell,” Brown added.  “We will need to be strong defensively and continue to improve on offense to be successful.”

Day 2

20th-ranked Air Force men’s water polo (7-6) split a pair of games Sunday at the Bucknell Invite in Lewisburg, Pa.  The Falcons won their opener over Long Island, 17-8, and fell to host Bucknell 13-8 in the second game.

In the opening game, the Falcons jumped ahead 3-1 after the first quarter.  The teams traded four goals each in the second to into the half with Air Force leading 7-5.  The Falcons turned it on in the second half, scoring five goals in both the third and fourth quarters to pull away.

The freshmen duo of Tom Leggett and Jack Richards combined for seven goals and 10 points.  Leggett scored four, with an assist and Richard tallied a hat-trick with three goals to go with two assists.  Senior Sam De La Cruz also had a hat-trick with three goals.  Junior Kaito Ham and sophomore Colin Chase added two goals each.  Senior Ian Christie added three assists.

Junior Liam Markus had two saves in the win in goal.

“We were slow this morning and did not start well,” head coach Ryan Brown said.  “However, we were able to finally get rolling and played better as the game went on against Long Island.”

Against Bucknell, the Falcons got behind big early.  Bucknell out-scored the Falcons 6-1 in the opening quarter and led 10-3 at the half.  The Falcons regrouped and out-scored the Bison 5-3 in the second half, but the early deficit was too big an obstacle to overcome.

Richards led the Falcons with another hat-trick with three goals.  Sophomore Jake Dixon added two goals.

“We got off to a bad start against Bucknell, getting just physically outmatched,” Brown said.  “They played such a physical game. At the end of the first we had a 6 on 5. I told the team we need a goal, then a stop just to get out of the quarter. Then we talked about how we just needed to win quarter. So we won the second half and just tried to keep moving so they could not grab us. But we cannot give up that many goals early and fall that far behind.”

Air Force returns to action next weekend at the Titan Invitational hosted by Cal State Fullerton.

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