April 15, 2009
The Air Force lacrosse team finally opens its home slate this weekend, April 17 and 19, when it hosts Ohio State and Detroit. On Friday, the Falcons will take on the Buckeyes in a conference match-up, slated to begin at 4:00 p.m. Meanwhile, in the team's home finale on Sunday, Air Force will face first-year program Detroit in a 12:00 p.m. contest. Both games will be played at the Cadet Lacrosse Stadium.
Last Time Out...
The Air Force lacrosse team improved to 2-1 in the Great Western Lacrosse League with a 12-7 road victory over Bellarmine.
The Falcons got off to a hot start in the game with three consecutive scores from senior K.J. Landgraf. While the Knights battled back to tie the game at 5-5 going into the intermission, Air Force scored the first two goals of the third period and never looked back. Landgraf finished the contest with a team-high four goals, while junior Ridge Flick added two goals and two assists to help lead the Air Force attack. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Brian Wilson matched a career high with 12 saves in nearly 57 minutes of action.
Scouting the Falcons...
Air Force enters this week's contest with a 4-6 overall record and 2-1 mark in the GWLL following its win over Bellarmine last weekend.
Sophomore Vinny Sandtorv is the Falcons' leading goal scorer with 18 tallies on the year, while junior Ridge Flick leads the team in assists (11) and total points (22). Sandtorv is tied with senior Griffin Nevitt (9g, 10a) for second on the team in points scored with 19, while senior K.J. Landgraf (16g, 2a) has added 18 points.
Scouting the Buckeyes...
Ohio State enters this weekend's contest with a 6-5 overall ecord and 2-0 ledger in the GWLL. The Buckeyes are coming off a narrow 12-11 loss to 10th-ranked North Carolina last weekend.
Senior Joel Dalgarno leads the Ohio State offense with 44 total points on the season, with a team-best 26 goals and 18 assists. Jeff Ryan has added 35 points (22g, 13a), while Mario Ventiquattro has tallied 24 points (16g, 8a) on the year.
Scouting the Titans...
Detroit, in its first season of varsity competition, currently holds an 0-9 record on the season. The Titans, who are coming off a 14-7 loss to Wheeling Jesuit, will visit Denver before facing Air Force on Sunday.
Matt Gregson is the leading scorer for Detroit with 22 points, with a team-high 13 goals and nine assists. Pat O'Shea has added 15 points (9g, 6a), while Kevin Demorest is third on the team with 14 points (10g, 4a).
Air Force is coached by Eric Seremet, in his first season as head coach. Seremet currently holds a career mark of 4-6.
Ohio State is coached by Nick Myers, in his first season as head coach of the Buckeyes. Myers holds a career record of 6-5 at Ohio State.
Detroit is coached by Matt Holtz, in his first season as head coach. Holtz currently holds a career mark of 0-9.
This weekend marks just the 24th meeting all-time between Air Force and Ohio State, with the Buckeyes holding a 14-9 advantage in the series. Ohio State has dominated the series as of late, winning the past 11 contests, including a 16-5 victory in Columbus last season.
This weekend will feature the first-ever meeting between Air Force and first-year program Detroit.
Air Force in the Statistical Rankings...
In the latest national rankings released by the NCAA (through games of April 12), Air Force ranks in the top 30 in three major team statistical categories. The Falcons rank 13th in the nation in ground balls per game (33.9), 22nd in man-up offense (.357) and are tied for 29th in man-down defense (.667).
In addition, the Falcons have a few players who are ranked among the top 50 nationally in various statistical categories. Midfielder Zack Carroll ranks 33rd in the nation in face-off win percentage (.505). Long-stick midfielder Dan Gnazzo ranks 36th in the nation and third in the GWLL in ground balls per game with 4.1, while defenseman Bryan Gilbreath is tied for 45th in the nation and is fifth in the GWLL in the same category with 3.78. In addition, junior Ridge Flick ranks tied for 49th in the nation in assists per game with 1.1.
How They Rate...
Through games of April 12, Ohio State ranks in the top 30 nationally in eight team statistical categories, including four in the top 15. The Buckeyes are eighth in assists per game, 13th in points per game (17.27), tied for 13th in scoring defense (7.91) and are 15th in scoring margin (2.45).
Ohio State also has a few players who rank among the top 50 in individual statistics, led by Joel Dalgarno, who ranks fifth in points per game (4.0), 12th in assists per game (1.64) and tied for 16th in goals per game (2.36). Jeff Ryan rates tied for 27th in points per game (3.18), tied for 37th in goals per game (2.0) and tied for 38th in assists per game (1.18), while goalkeeper Brandon Freeman ranks 18th in goals against average (8.14) and 24th in save percentage (.552).
Meanwhile, Detroit's top statistical category is in saves per game, where the Titans average 12.67 per contest. In addition, Matt Gregson ranks 26th individually with 4.56 ground balls per game.
Saying Good-Bye to the Seniors...
Sunday's game against Detroit will mark the final home appearance for Air Force's senior class. Prior to the start of the game, the Falcons will hold a brief ceremony to honor their 12 seniors: Eric Evans, Dan Gnazzo, Wick Kelley, K.J. Landgraf, Colin Lockhart, Brian Massa, David Mackintosh, Sean Millner, Griffin Nevitt, David Nugent, Jeff Pecora and David Sleasman.
This season, the Falcons have truly been "road warriors," playing their first 10 games of the year away from home. This weekend, Air Force will play its first--and only--home games of the season, more than two months after the team opened its 2009 schedule. The Falcons have already played in five "true" road games, along with five neutral-site contests.
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 (and upcoming opponent) Detroit, which had just one home contest on its schedule.
In the first 10 games of the season, Air Force has seen 23 points (16g, 7a) 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, ranks fifth on the team with eight goals on the year, and also scored his first career assist against Sacred Heart. Senior Dan Gnazzo, playing at the long-stick midfield position, registered his first two goals of the season in the game versus Army, and now has four goals and four assists on the season. 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 10 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. Dan Gnazzo, Air Force (Sr., LSM) 8 pts (4g, 4a)
3. CJ Costabile, Duke (Fr., D) 7 pts (3g, 4a)
4. Zack Schroeder, Navy (Jr., LSM) 6 pts (3g, 3a)
Stephen Waldeck, Stony Brook (Jr., D) 6 pts (4g, 2a)
Winning In the GWLL...
With its win over Bellarmine last weekend, Air Force is guaranteed to at least match its best conference record since the GWLL became a six-team league in 2001. The Falcons have finished their GWLL slate with a 2-3 record on three occasions--in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Should Air Force win either of its next two conference games, it would mark just the second time that the Falcons have won three GWLL contests in a single season. In 1995, the league's second year of competition, Air Force went 3-1 in the conference, defeating Ohio State, Michigan State and Butler, while falling to Notre Dame.
The Falcons close out the regular season next weekend, April 25, when they visit conference rival Denver. The game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. at Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
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