No. 19 Air Force Men’s Water Polo Hosts Three Games at Cadet Natatorium

Courtesy: Air Force Athletics

This Week:  No. 19 Air Force hosts three games in two days at the Cadet Natatorium. Air Force opens the weekend with a non-conference game against Austin College (4-4 overall) on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 9:30 am MT. Later that day, the Falcons will face conference foe Concordia (5-10 overall, 0-2 WWPA) at 3 pm. The final home game of the season is Sunday, Oct. 17, when the Falcons face WWPA rival Santa Clara at 11 a.m. MT. Click here for the live stream of all three games.

Racking up W’s: Air Force’s 13 wins this season are the most of any team in the WWPA and ties as the fourth most in the nation. Only fifth-ranked Cal (15), seventh-ranked Long Beach State (15) and second-ranked UCLA (14) and have more wins than the Falcons. Air Force’s 13 wins are already the most under head coach Ryan Brown and are the most since the 2014 team won 15.

Series Records: Air Force leads the all-time series against Austin College. The teams first met last season in Texas with the Falcons winning both games, 19-10 and 18-4.
Air Force and Concordia will meet for the 15th time and the series is tied at 7-7. The teams did not play last season. In the last meeting, Concordia defeated Air Force, 13-12, in Irvine in 2019. In 2018, Air Force took two from Concordia, winning 8-7, at a neutral site and then 19-11 in a conference game at the Academy.
Air Force leads the all-time series with Santa Clara, 44-14. The teams began playing each other in 1971, but did not play last season. In the last meeting, Santa Clara defeated Air Force 15-11, in California in 2019. The Falcons defeated the Broncos twice in 2018, 18-13 at the Academy, and 15-14 in Santa Clara.

About Austin: Austin College is 4-4 overall this season. The team hasn’t played since an 18-7 win over Augustana on Sept. 12. The Roos have won three straight with victories over Washington and Jefferson and Penn State-Behrend.

About Concordia: Concordia is 5-10 overall and 0-2 in the WWPA. The Eagles lost WWPA games to UC San Diego (19-4) early in the season and then to UC Davis (21-5) last week. The Eagles split a pair of games at the CBU Tournament, Oct. 9, defeating Westcliff and falling to Pepperdine.

About Santa Clara: Santa Clara is 9-6 overall this season and 1-1 in the WWPA. The Broncos defeated Biola, 19-7, earlier in the season and then fell to Fresno Pacific, 10-7, last week. Santa Clara and Air Force both own close victories over Navy. SC defeated the Mids, 7-5, on Oct. 2.

Senior day: Prior to the Austin College game on Saturday, Oct. 16, the Falcons will honor its seven seniors. As juniors, the class helped lead the Falcons to the 2020 WWPA regular-season championship. This season, the class has led the Falcons to the best start since 1977. At 13-3, the Falcons currently have the fourth most wins of any team in the nation. The class of 2021 consists of: James Daugherty, Sam FullerGavin JonesZach Shelley, co-captain Corey Tanis, co-captain Anthony Tolbert and Henry Yavitt.  The class has combined to play in 464 games and has helped lead the Falcons to 37 wins. The class has combined for 263 goals, 403 points and 227 steals.

Last Week:  Air Force split a pair of Western Water Polo Association games, Oct, 9, in southern California. After a 16-12 loss at 15th-ranked Loyola Marymount, the 17th-ranked Falcons defeated WWPA newcomer Biola, 14-6.
In the first game, LMU took a lead in the second period and the Falcons never recovered in the 16-12 loss to the Lions. Sam Fuller and Grant Snyder each scored in the final minute of the first quarter to tie the game at 2-2. LMU scored three unanswered goals and had a 7-4 lead at the half. After a goal by Snyder, LMU scored three straight for a 10-5 lead. Goals by Snyder and Fuller early in the fourth cut the LMU lead to 12-10. However, that was as close as the Falcons would get. The Lions again scored three straight for the win. Snyder and Fuller each scored four goals for the Falcons.
In the second game of the day, Henry Yavitt scored two early goals as the Falcons built a 5-0 lead in the first. Five different Falcons scored in the second quarter as the Falcons had a 10-2 lead at the half.  Air Force outscored the Eagles, 5-4, in the second half for the 14-6 win. Nine different Falcons scored in the game. Snyder led the Falcons with three goals while Yavitt, Ryan McLaughlin and Larsen McCarroll all had two.

Best Start in 30 years:  Air Force opened the 2021 season with six straight wins, before falling to No. 6 Long Beach State. The six-game winning streak is the longest since the 2008 team won seven in a row at midseason. With wins over MIT and Brown, the Falcons improved to 11-1 overall this season, the best start since 1977. The current 13-3 record is the best 16-game record since the 1991 team was 18-3 en route to a 24-8 record and a close loss to UC San Diego in the WWPA title game.

Sammy on a Tear: Senior Sam Fuller has been on a tear this season. Fuller is sixth in the WWPA in goals (39), sixth in points (55) and fifth in field blocks (7). He was named the WWPA Player of the Week, Sept. 14, with 11 goals and 15 points in four games in the Inland Empire Classic in Redlands. In two games against Fresno Pacific, Sept. 18, he had eight goals and one assist. He matched his career high with five goals and six points in the first game against FPU. Fuller matched his career highs of five goals and six points in the win over UCSD.

All-American Grant SnyderSenior Grant Snyder, a second-team All-American last season, picked up right where he left off last season. He has scored a goal in all 16 games this season. He has been named the USAFA Athlete of the Week twice, most recently when he scored 18 goals in four games on an eastern road swing. He had five goals in the win over Navy and tied his career best with nine points (5-4-9) in the win over Brown. He leads the team with 56 goals and 72 points. In addition to his scoring, he leads the team with sprint victories (35), and steals (25) and drawn exclusions (28).

Inside the Numbers: Grant Snyder is second in the WWPA in points (73), goals (56) and sprint victories (35). He is fifth in the league in steals (25). Snyder is fourth in the nation in goals and sprint victories and fifth in points. Fuller is sixth in the WWPA in goals (39), sixth in points (55) and fifth in field blocks (7).  Sophomore Ian Christie is fourth in the WWPA in assists (27) and is sixth with 23 steals. Freshman Ryan McLaughlin is fifth in the conference in assists (24). Henry Yavitt is eighth in field blocks (5). Anthony Tolbert is sixth in the league in goals-against average (8.61) and third in saves percentage (.490). A.J. Kuypers is eighth in the WWPA in GAA (11.33) and fifth in saves percentage (.436).

2020 WWPA Champions: Air Force won its first ever WWPA regular season championship in 2020 with a perfect 2-0 record in conference play. The Falcons defeated Loyola Marymount, 15-13 in overtime, and Cal Baptist, 15-14, in overtime, in designated conference games. Air Force was the No. 1 seed in the WWPA Tournament for the first time ever, but fell to Cal Baptist, 11-9, in the title game. Air Force finished the season ranked eighth in the nation.  The Falcons finished the season with a 4-7 overall record.

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