ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy water polo team (4-4) dropped an 11-7 decision to Air Force (9-1) on Thursday night at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. The Midshipmen were hurt by a slow start, scoring just a pair of goals in the first half.
“It was a great crowd tonight, and I just wish we’d given them a better show,” head coach Luis Nicolao said after the game. “We just started off too slow. We had a ton of opportunities, but were unable to capitalize on them and get the crowd into it. We found our groove in the third quarter, but at that point it was too little, too late. Hats off to the Air Force. They are a solid team and they showed that tonight. This is a fun rivalry and we look forward to making the trip to Colorado next year. “
Offensively, the Midshipmen struggled to get into a consistent rhythm on the night, scoring seven goals in the contest. Hayden Kahn (San Clemente, Calif.) And Isaac Salinas (Spring City, Pa.) Led the team with two goals apiece. Jake Altmayer (Pasadena, Calif.), Travis Berzins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), And Jack Weggeland (Riverside, Calif.) Rounded out the scoring. Ivan Pang (El Monte, Calif.) Accounted for four of the Mids’ seven assists on the night. Payton Comstock (Clarendon Hills, Ill.), Altmayer, and Weggeland also recorded helpers in the game.
Defensively, the Midshipmen used a pair of goalies. Max Sandberg (Newport Beach, Calif.) Started the game and worked the first half. The senior recorded six saves with a steal, while surrendering seven goals. Sandberg gave way to Caden Capobianco (Laguna Beach, Calif.) In the second half. The sophomore keeper made seven stops with a pair of steals, while giving up four goals.
In the first half, the Falcons were able to sneak a couple of goals by the Mids to take a 2-0 advantage. Kahn trimmed the margin to one to start the second quarter, but an Air Force goal pushed the lead back to two. Salinas buried a pass from Altmayer in the back of the net to pull Navy to within one. Air Force responded with four consecutive goals to close out the half, taking a 7-2 lead into intermission.
Navy opened the second half with back-to-back scores by Salinas and Weggeland, but Air Force answered with a pair of goals to go in front, 9-4. Berzins picked up a loose ball in front of the goal and slid it by the goalie to close the gap. Following a Falcons goal, the Mids offense worked the ball around until Altmayer found an opening for the goal. Kahn followed with a turn-around goal in front of the net to trim the margin to three, 10-7, through three quarters. In the fourth, Air Force opened the scoring with a goal 90 seconds into the period to go ahead, 11-7. The defense by both teams kept the ball out of the net for the next six and a half minutes, leaving the score 11-7 and securing The Vase for Air Force.
Navy returns to action this weekend as the Midshipmen hit the road to take on Wagner and No. 9 Princeton on Saturday in Princeton, NJ The Mids close out the weekend with a game against No. 16 Fordham in the Bronx.