Feb. 8, 2013
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Outscored 8-2 in the second half, the Air Force lacrosse team opened the 2013 season Friday evening with a 16-8 road loss to fourth-ranked North Carolina.
Junior Tommy McKee (Holt, Mich.) led the Falcons with the seventh hat trick of his career, while classmates Erik Smith (Golden, Colo.) and Mike Crampton (Kinnelon, N.J.) added two scores each. Meanwhile, North Carolina was led by All-Americans Marcus Holman and Jimmy Bitter, who registered eight points (2g, 6a) and six points (5g, 1a), respectively.
The Tar Heels got on the board first, scoring at the 8:38 mark in the opening period, while adding another goal less than three minutes later. Smith won the ensuing face-off and found the back of the net to give Air Force its first goal of the game, while McKee added another score less than a minute later. The Falcons tallied their third straight score with a goal from Kyle Cassady (Jr., Upper Arlington, Ohio) to take the lead, but a man-down goal by North Carolina with 36 seconds remaining in the period tied the score at 3-3.
North Carolina pulled ahead in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter before Crampton responded with his first goal of the game at the 13:50 mark. The Tar Heels regained their advantage just over a minute later and held on until a score from Smith tied the score at 5-5. Again, North Carolina pushed ahead, tallying back-to-back scores, while Crampton cut the margin to one with a goal in the final seconds of the period. However, the Tar Heels found the back of the net with just one second on the clock to go into the locker room with an 8-6 lead.
After the break, North Carolina began to pull away, tallying two scores in the first four and a half minutes of the third period. While the Falcons got back on the board with a score from McKee at the 10:34 mark, North Carolina closed out the quarter with two more goals to take a 12-7 advantage into the final stanza. The first score of the fourth quarter came on a man-up goal by McKee with 10:50 to play, but the Falcons were unable to score again, while the Tar Heels closed out the contest with four unanswered scores.
The Tar Heels outshot the Falcons for the game, 49-34, and held a 44-30 edge on ground balls. North Carolina also won the battle at the face-off X, winning 17-of-27 draws. Meanwhile, Air Force was just 1-of-4 on its extra-man opportunities, while the Tar Heels were unable to score on their only man-up opportunity.
"Our guys played hard," said Air Force head coach Eric Seremet. "Carolina was a very talented team and they made some big plays in the second half to pull away. We need to learn from this and be ready for the next one on Sunday. The goal is to play a complete four-quarter game."
The Falcons have a quick turnaround before their next game, as they face first-year program High Point on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (ET).