Strong Second Half Leads No. 15 Air Force Past Sagehens

Strong Second Half Leads No. 15 Air Force Past Sagehens

Claremont, Calif. - The No. 15-ranked Air Force Men's Water Polo team scored five unanswered goals to start the second half and went on to a 14-10 win over Pomona-Pitzer on Monday afternoon at Haldeman Pool. 

With the win, Air Force improves to 8-11 on the season, while Pomona-Pitzer falls to 4-12, with 10 of the losses coming to teams ranked in the national top 20. 

Senior Travis Larsen and junior Phillip Clayman (pictured) led the Sagehens with three goals apiece, but Pomona-Pitzer had a tough time beating goalie Max Benson, who had 18 saves, while stopping two penalty shots. Both of his penalty shot saves came with the Sagehens leading 8-6, one in the final minute of the first half and one in the first minute of the second half, to prevent the lead from expanding to three goals.

Ben Rogers scored twice in the 5-0 run which put the Falcons ahead 11-8, the second of which came with 51 seconds gone in the fourth quarter to cap off the run. Clayman responded with a penalty shot and sophomore Tommy Turner scored with 4:01 left off a pass from Stephen Vint to make the score 11-10.

However, Peter Jaknovich scored the key goal of the match for Air Force on its next possession when he leaned back to catch a pass behind him and fired in a shot from just outside the five meter line just before the shot clock expired to push the lead to 12-10 with 3:33 to go. Dominic Vicino then capitalized on a steal and scored on a counter with 2:18 to play to help seal it, and Jankovich tacked on his fourth to close out the scoring.

Jankovich and Rogers each had a game-high four goals for Air Force. James Baker had two for the Sagehens to join Clayman and Larsen in the multi-goal category, while Vicino and Jantz Johnson each had two for Air Force. Ethan Caleb Prater-Fahey finished with eight saves for the Sagehens.

Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action when it opens SCIAC play against Occidental on Saturday at Haldeman Pool, beginning at 11 a.m.