April 8, 2009
The Air Force lacrosse team wraps up its 10-game road swing this weekend, April 10, when it heads to Louisville, Ky., to take on conference rival Bellarmine. The game is slated to begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium.
Last Time Out...
The Air Force lacrosse team suffered its first conference loss of the season last weekend, falling to fourth-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame, 10-4.
After a close contest for the first 20 minutes of action, the Irish went on a second-period run to pull away in the game. Each of the Falcons' four goals in the game was scored by a different player. Meanwhile, sophomore Brian Wilson, in his second start of the year, tallied a season-best 11 saves in the loss.
Scouting the Falcons...
Air Force enters this week's contest with a 3-6 overall record and 1-1 mark in the GWLL following its loss to undefeated Notre Dame last weekend.
Sophomore Vinny Sandtorv is the Falcons' leading goal scorer with 16 tallies on the year, while junior Ridge Flick leads the team in assists (9) and total points (18). Sandtorv is second on the team in points scored with 17, followed by seniors Griffin Nevitt (8g, 8a) and K.J. Landgraf (12g, 2a) with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Scouting the Knights...
Bellarmine enters this weekend's contest with a 6-5 overall record and 0-3 mark in the GWLL. The Knights dropped an 11-7 contest to Ohio State last weekend.
Derek Hopcroft leads Bellarmine with 30 total points on the year, including a team-best 23 goals. Two other players have scored at least 20 points this year as well, with Sean Doyle tallying 28 points (22g, 6a) and Jarrett Davis adding 25 points (14g, 11a).
Air Force is coached by Eric Seremet, in his first season as head coach. Seremet currently holds a career mark of 3-6.
Bellarmine is coached by Jack McGetrick, in his fifth season at the helm of the Knights' program. McGetrick currently holds a record of 36-32 at Bellarmine and a career mark of 123-106 (16th year).
This weekend marks just the fourth meeting all-time between Air Force and Bellarmine, with the Falcons holding a 2-1 edge in the series. The home team in each of the contests has been the victor, with Air Force taking a 13-8 decision last year at the Academy.
Air Force in the Statistical Rankings...
In the latest national rankings released by the NCAA (through games of April 5), Air Force ranks in the top 30 in three major team statistical categories. The Falcons rank seventh in the nation in ground balls per game (.674), tied for 27th in man-down defense and 29th in face-off win percentage (.503).
In addition, the Falcons have a few players who are ranked among the top 50 nationally in various statistical categories. Midfielder Zack Carroll ranks 32nd in the nation in face-off win percentage (.520). Meanwhile defenseman Bryan Gilbreath and long-stick midfielder Dan Gnazzo are tied for 47th in the nation and third in the GWLL in ground balls per game with 3.78.
How They Rate...
Through games of April 5, Bellarmine ranks in the top 30 nationally in nine team statistical categories, including four in the top 20. The Knights are tied for 17th in scoring offense (10.36), rank 18th in both face-off win percentage (.533) and man-up offense (.387), and are 20th in points per game (16.09).
Bellarmine also has several players who rank among the top 50 individually, led by Derek Hopcroft, who ranks tied for 19th in goals per game (2.3) and tied for 40th in points per game (3.0). Midfielder Bobby Snider rates 25th in face-off win percentage (.534), Sean Doyle is tied for 26th in goals per game (2.2), and goalkeeper Scott Bowles ranks 40th in goals against average (10.4) and 42nd in save percentage (.503).
This weekend's contest at Bellarmine will mark the end of the Falcons' 10-game road swing to open the season. Air Force, who are headed to their fifth "true" road game and have played in five neutral-site contests, have yet to play at home this season. The Falcons will finally open their home slate next week, April 17--more than two months after their first game of the season. Just two of the Falcons' 13 regular-season contests are slated to be played at the Academy--the April 17 game versus conference foe Ohio State and the home finale versus Detroit on April 19.
Air Force is one of just two Division I men's lacrosse teams scheduled to play fewer than five home games during the season. The other is first-year program Detroit, which has just one home contest on its schedule.
Back in the Game...
Freshman attack Adam Paranka had a solid start to his collegiate career, with a pair of goals to his name after the first two games of the season. However, Paranka missed the next seven games of the year due to a hand injury. After returning to the lineup for the Falcons' game at Notre Dame, Paranka quickly got back into the swing of things, registering one of the Falcons' four goals on the afternoon.
In the first nine games of the season, Air Force has seen 21 points (15g, 6a) scored by its long poles, more than double the output of any other Division I team in the nation. Sophomore defender Bryan Gilbreath, who tallied a pair of goals in 2008, is tied for fourth on the team with eight goals on the year, along with his first career assist. Senior Dan Gnazzo, playing at the long-stick midfield position, registered his first two goals of the season in the game versus Army, and added another against Notre Dame, while also adding three assists on the year. In addition, fellow senior long-stick midfielder Jeff Pecora has assisted Gilbreath on a pair of goals, also scoring three more goals on the season, while freshman defenseman Dayton Gilbreath tallied his first career goal in the win over Quinnipiac.
Nationally, there are just six defensemen/long-stick midfielders who have scored at least five points on the season, including three from Air Force.
Top Scoring Long Poles
1. Bryan Gilbreath, Air Force (So., D) 9 pts (8g, 1a)
2. CJ Costabile, Duke (Fr., D) 7 pts (3g, 4a)
3. Dan Gnazzo, Air Force (Sr., LSM) 6 pts (3g, 3a)
4. Zack Schroeder, Navy (Jr., LSM) 6 pts (3g, 3a)
5. Jeff Pecora, Air Force (Sr., LSM) 5 pts (3g, 2a)
6. P.T. Ricci, Loyola (Sr., LSM) 5 pts (2g, 3a)
Getting to 100...
With his second goal against Sacred Heart on March 1, senior captain Griffin Nevitt became the latest Air Force player to reach 100 points for his career. Nevitt, who now sits at 109 career points (71 g, 38a), is one of just two Falcons in the last 10+ years to score 100 points in his career. The last Air Force player to reach the milestone was 2007 graduate Will Meister, who ended his career with 141 points. Prior to Meister, no Falcon has gotten to 100 career points since Chris MacAulay ended his career in 1998 with 147 career points.
The Falcons finally open up their home slate with a pair of games next weekend, April 17 and 19. First, Air Force will host conference rival Ohio State on Friday with a 4:00 p.m. contest. The Falcons will then wrap up its two-game home schedule on Sunday, as they face Detroit at noon.
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