Air Force Hosts Bucknell, No. 9 Notre Dame This Weekend In Lacrosse Action
The Air Force lacrosse team (6-5, 1-0) continues its four-game homestand this week with a pair of contests. First, the Falcons will host Bucknell on Friday, April 14, at 3:00 p.m. Then, Air Force wraps up the weekend against league foe Notre Dame, currently ranked ninth nationally, on Sunday, April 16, with a 2:00 p.m. contest.
Last Time Out...
Air Force moved above .500 for the first time this season and remained undefeated at home with a pair of victories last weekend. The Falcons began with an 8-4 win over Quinnipiac in the team's conference opener on Friday, followed by a 9-7 defeat of Bellarmine on Sunday afternoon.
Against the Bobcats, Air Force was able to break a 4-4 tie at intermission, shutting out Quinnipiac in the second half en route to the 8-4 victory. Junior Conrad Lochocki paced the team with two goals and two assists, while goalkeeper Justin Pavoni tallied 14 saves in the contest, including seven in the fourth period alone.
Despite trailing the Knights 3-2 at halftime in the second game of the week, the Air Force offense broke through in the third period, scoring five unanswered goals to secure the 9-7 victory. Freshman Griffin Nevitt was impressive for the Falcons, getting two of his three goals during the Air Force run, while adding another score directly off a Falcon face-off win. Will Meister added two goals and an assist, while Justin Kuchta notched a goal and two assists in the winning effort.
Head Coach Fred Acee...
Air Force head coach Fred Acee is in his ninth season at the helm of the Falcons' program and his 39th season overall as a collegiate lacrosse coach.
A 1963 graduate of Cortland State, Acee coached at SUNY-Farmingdale, a two-year college on Long Island, for 30 years, compiling an overall mark of 312-119-1 and advancing to the NJCAA Final Four 25 times. Since Acee's arrival at the Academy in the fall of 1997, the Falcons have yearly played top notch Division I schedules, compiling a record of 32-81.
Scouting the Bison...
Bucknell enters this weekend's contest with a 4-6 overall mark. The Bobcats have lost their lost two contests, including an 8-7 loss to Army last weekend.
Joe Mele leads Bucknell's offense with 16 goals on the season, while Kirk Klett (14 goals, one assist) and John Togneri (10 goals, five assists) have 15 points each. Matt Baran has started all 10 games in goal for the Bison, and has compiled a .556 save percentage and 6.69 GAA.
Bucknell is coached by Frank Fedorjaka (Hobart '89), who has compiled a 4-6 career mark in his first season at the helm of the Bison.
Scouting the Fighting Irish...
Notre Dame, ranked ninth in the USILA/STX Coaches Poll and 11th in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, currently holds a 7-2 overall record, 1-0 mark in the GWLL and will take on Denver before playing Air Force on Sunday. The Fighting Irish are coming off a 9-8 victory over league opponent Butler.
Brian Hubschmann leads the Notre Dame offense with 27 points (17 goals, 12 assists), while Pat Walsh ranks second on the team with 11goals and 14 assists (25 points). Sophomore goalkeeper Joey Kemp has started in goal in all nine games for the Fighting Irish, compiling a .615 save percentage and 6.79 GAA.
Notre Dame is coached by Kevin Corrigan (Virginia '88), who has compiled a 153-85 ledger in his 18th season at the helm of the Fighting Irish program and a 163-100 career ledger (20th year).
In the Series...
Air Force is 0-4 all-time against Bucknell, with the Bison getting a close 9-8 victory in the teams' last meeting in 1998. Notre Dame holds a 17-4 advantage in the series versus Air Force, which has not beaten the Fighting Irish since 1988. Last year, Notre Dame held on for a 14-13 overtime victory over the Falcons in South Bend.
AF in the Coaches Poll...
In the USILA/STX Coaches Poll released April 10, Air Force is one of seven teams receiving votes. Two other GWLL teams, Notre Dame (#9) and Denver (#18) are ranked among the top 20 teams, while two other teams that the Falcons have played this season, UMBC (#15) and Army (#16), are also among the ranked teams.
Falcons in the National Rankings...
In the latest national rankings through games of April 9, Air Force found itself ranked in the top-50 in every statistical category. The Falcons are rated 11th in man-down defense (.763), 15th in scoring defense (7.73), 22nd in scoring margin (+0.82), 27th in win percentage (.545), 30th in scoring offense (8.55), 32nd in face-off win percentage (.479) and 37th in man-up offense (.25).
In addition, several Air Force players are rated in the individual rankings. Junior Will Meister is currently 14th in the nation in assists per game (1.64), sophomore Kevin Crumrine is rated 31st in goals per game (1.91), goalkeeper Justin Pavoni is rated 17th, 23rd and 24th in save percentage (.586), goals against average (7.99) and ground balls (4.55), respectively, and face-off specialist Kyle O'Neill ranks 39th (.492) in face-off win percentage.
In the GWLL rankings, Meister leads the league in assists per game, while Crumrine ranks third in goals per contest. Meister is eighth in points per game with 2.55. Pavoni ranks second in ground balls and saves per game, third in save percentage and fourth in goals against average. Finally, O'Neill and John Smith rank seventh and ninth, respectively, in face-off win percentage.
How They Rate...
Bucknell ranks in the top-25 nationally in scoring defense (10th, 6.91) and scoring margin (24th, +0.73). In addition, goalkeeper Matt Baran ranks ninth in goals against average (6.69) and 27th in save percentage (.556).
Notre Dame is ranked in the top-25 in the nation in man-down defense (fifth, .800), win percentage (eighth, .778), scoring defense (ninth, 6.89), scoring margin (16th, +1.33) and face-off win percentage (21st, .527). Meanwhile, Joey Kemp ranks eighth in save percentage (0.615) and 11th in goals against average (6.8), while Pat Walsh ranks 16th in assists per game (1.56).
In the GWLL rankings, Notre Dame's Brian Hubschmann leads the league in points per game (3.0), is fourth in goals per game (1.89) and fifth in assists per game (1.11). Walsh is second in assists per game and tied for second in points per game (2.78), while Kemp is second in both save percentage and goals against average.
On A Roll...
After losing their first four games of the season, the Falcons have now won six of their last seven contests. The lone loss during that stretch was a 12-11 overtime loss to then-20th-ranked Army. Air Force is also undefeated at home (5-0) and is guaranteed to post the best overall record in Coach Acee's nine-year tenure at the Academy.
Pavoni Moves Up In the Record Books...
With 119 saves through the first nine games of the season, senior Justin Pavoni sits in seventh place on the career saves list at the Academy with 425 total saves, and needs 62 more saves to move past Chris Cicere into sixth place.
Most impressive about Pavoni's feat is not only that he has accomplished it against a rigorous Division I schedule (many of Air Force's teams in the first 25+ years of the program played Division II and III teams), but he has also made his mark in just over two full years of play, as Pavoni did not see action as a freshman.
The Falcons go on their final road trip of the regular season for a pair of league games next week, first traveling to Butler on April 21 for a 3:00 p.m. (ET) contest, followed by a 12:00 p.m. (ET) meeting at Ohio State on April 23.