April 12, 2014
USAFA, Colo. - In its final home game of the season, the Air Force lacrosse team scored a 16-8 upset over 11th-ranked conference foe Fairfield Saturday afternoon at Falcon Stadium. With the win, the Falcons improve to 8-3 on the season and 3-0 in the ECAC, while the Stags drop to 9-3 overall and 2-1 in the league.
The Falcons have now won six straight contests, their largest winning streak since 1989, while Air Force's eight wins are the most in a single season since 1995.
Air Force's senior class, playing in Falcon Stadium for the last time, led the Falcons' offensive effort against the Stags. Seniors Tommy McKee (Holt, Mich.) and Mike Crampton (Kinnelon, N.J.) each registered six points for Air Force--McKee scored a season-high five goals and an assist, while Crampton added three goals and three assists.
Erik Smith (Sr., Golden, Colo.) added two goals, three assists and a team-high six ground balls, while Kyle Cassady (Sr., Upper Arlington, Ohio) scored two goals and an assist. Also pitching in a multiple-point effort for Air Force was junior Keith Dreyer (Malvern, Pa.), who scored two goals and three assists to finish with a season-high five points.
The Falcons got off to a slower start than they have in recent weeks, not getting on the scoreboard until midway through the first period with a goal from Dreyer. Fairfield responded quickly, scoring less than 14 seconds later, but Air Force tallied two more goals in the quarter to take a 3-1 lead.
Crampton's first goal of the game came with 13:17 on the clock in the second period, giving the Falcons a 4-1 advantage, while the Stags got back on the board less than a minute later. However, Air Force rattled off three straight scores, getting goals from Cassady, Smith and McKee, pushing the Falcons' cushion to five goals. Fairfield stopped Air Force run's with score at the three minute mark, but with a tremendous feed from Smith, Crampton found the back of the net with 18 seconds left in the half, to give the Falcons an 8-3 advantage at the intermission.
A man-up score by Cassady early in the third period put Air Force up 9-3, but Fairfield's Dave Fleming responded with a pair of goals, including a man-up tally, in a 90-second span, to cut the margin back to four goals. After several scoreless minutes, the Falcons answered with back-to-back tallies from McKee and Crampton, as Air Force held on to an 11-5 lead heading into the final stanza.
Air Force added to its margin with a score from sophomore Christopher Allen (Hillsborough, N.J.) two minutes into the fourth quarter, while the Stags attempted to battle back, tallying the next two goals. However, the Falcons began to pull away, registering three goals in less than 40 seconds, to take a 15-7 lead. Air Force's largest advantage came with 4:30 remaining in the contest, as McKee found the back of the net with an assist by Dreyer, before the Stags tallied the final score of the game.
The Falcons were able to maintain possession for a large portion of the game, outshooting the Stags, 50-20. Fairfield had a slight advantage at the face-off X, winning 14-of-27 draws, but committed 15 turnovers, compared to just seven by Air Force. Meanwhile, the Falcons' defense stood strong, holding the Stags' top three scorers for the season without a single point.
"I can't express just how proud I am of these seniors, especially with how they played on Senior Day," said Air Force head coach Eric Seremet. "Fairfield is such a good team. Alex Warden had a big day for us on defense, as did Kyle O'Brien and Matt Puleo."
"The biggest challenge for us now is how we handle our success," continued Seremet. "Next week's game is another big test."
Air Force closes out its ECAC slate next Saturday, April 19, when it visits Ohio State in a key match-up. The Falcons sit a half game ahead of the Buckeyes in the ECAC standings, and a win by Air Force would clinch the top seed in the ECAC Championship, which will be held May 1 and 3, in Columbus, Ohio.
Air Force 16, No. 11 Fairfield 8
Fairfield - 1 2 2 3 - 8
Air Force - 3 5 3 5 - 16
FFD Scoring: Goals: Fleming 3, Neubauer 2, Knostman 2, Cramer. Assists: Fleming, Knostman, Dalton, Neubauer, Panepinto.
AF Scoring: Goals: McKee 5, Crampton 3, Dreyer 2, Cassady 2, E. Smith 2, Allen, A. Smith. Assists: E. Smith 3, Crampton 3, Dreyer 3, McKee, Cassady.