Air Force Captures 11-8 League Win Over Butler
USAFA, Colo. -
Junior John Smith (Merion, Pa.) tallied a career-high three goals, including the game-winner, to pace the Air Force lacrosse team to an 11-8 come-from-behind victory over league foe Butler Friday afternoon at the Cadet Lacrosse Stadium. The win moves the Falcons to 4-6 overall, 1-2 in the GWLL, while the Bulldogs fall to 4-6, 0-3 in conference play.
Air Force looked sluggish in the opening minutes, digging itself into an early deficit against the Bulldogs. After Kyle Tietjen put Butler on the board at the 11:30 mark in the opening period, the team rattled off three more unanswered goals, all by Nick Vosburgh, to take a 4-0 lead with just over five minutes to play in the first quarter. An Air Force timeout proved to be the proper remedy, as they scored twice before the end of the period to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Falcons continued their momentum early in the second quarter, when freshman David Rose (Allentown, Pa.) tallied his first career goal at the 9:43 mark. Less than 20 seconds later, Smith scored off the ensuing face-off to tie the game at 4-4. However, the Bulldogs regained their advantage with 8:06 on the clock when Vosburgh tallied his fourth score of the day. The period ended with Butler holding on to a 5-4 lead going into intermission.
Tough defense in the third period proved to be beneficial to the Falcons, as they were able to hold the Bulldogs scoreless. Meanwhile, the Air Force offense began to click, producing four goals, including a pair of extra-opportunity scores to open the quarter. Max Miller (Jr., Dublin, Ohio), with his first career goal, was the first to score in the period, connecting on a perfect pass from freshman Kevin Crumrine (Edgewater, Md.), while Conrad Lochocki (So., Chalfont, Pa.) scored off an assist from sophomore Will Meister (Denver, Colo.). Justin Kuchta (Ridgefield, Conn.) and Smith also scored to close out the quarter.
With an 8-5 lead to open the final period, the Falcons tried to hold on to their advantage, but Butler came storming back. Pat Hurto notched his first score of the game at the 11:45 mark, followed by a Phil Brauch-goal just over a minute later to cut the margin to 8-7. Vosburgh, who had been a hero for the Bulldogs all day, came through once again, tying the score once more with 8:46 remaining in the contest. From that point on, both teams played tough defense, and it seemed that an overtime contest was not unlikely. However, with just under three minutes left on the clock, Smith weaved through his defenders to slide the ball right past Butler goal-minder Sam Ashley, giving Air Force the 9-8 advantage.
Meister gave the Falcons an insurance goal with 1:05 on the clock, tossing the ball into an empty net. He drove straight to the cage for another score just over 30 seconds later, helping to seal the first conference win of the year for Air Force.
The Falcons had their best showing of the year on face-offs, winning half (11-of-22), while also converting 3-of-4 extra man opportunities. In addition, goalkeeper Justin Pavoni (Jr., Park City, Utah) was solid, tallying 11 saves, including five in the third period alone, and four ground balls.
Leading the Falcons with three points each were Smith (three goals) and Meister (two goals, one assist). Lochocki added two goals, while Kuchta, Crumrine and Miller all notched a goal and an assist each.
For the Bulldogs, Vosburgh added an assist to his five goals to finish the game with six points. Meanwhile, Tietjen had four points on a goal and three assists and Ashley had seven stops between the pipes.
Air Force will host Ohio State in its home finale on Sunday, April 24 at noon. The game, which will be held at Cadet Lacrosse Stadium, marks the final home appearances for seniors D.J. Benzing (Severna Park, Md.), Tim Hade (Franklin Lake, N.J.), Jared Brush (Nesconset, N.Y.), Jeffrey Jablonski (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Michael Kennedy (Manhasset, N.Y.). They will be honored, along with their parents, in a brief ceremony prior to the beginning of the contest.
Air Force 11, Butler 8
Air Force Scoring: Goals: John Smith 3, Will Meister 2, Conrad Lochocki 2, Justin Kuchta, Kevin Crumrine, Max Miller, David Rose. Assists: Kevin Crumrine, Justin Kuchta, Will Meister, Max Miller.
Butler Scoring: Goals: Nick Vosburgh 5, Kyle Tietjen, Phil Brauch, Pat Hurto. Assists: Kyle Tietjen 3, Brendan Flanagan, Nick Vosburgh.