No. 17 Air Force Hosts Richmond in NCAA Play-In Game
Sophomore Doug Gouchoe

May 6, 2014

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The Air Force lacrosse team makes its first NCAA appearance since 1988, as it hosts Richmond in a play-in game on Wednesday, May 7. The contest is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. at Falcon Stadium.

Live Stats/Video:
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 youth/students
Series History: First Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A

Third-seeded Air Force captured its first-ever ECAC title on Saturday, holding on for a 9-8 victory over top-seed Fairfield.

Junior Keith Dreyer, named the ECAC Tournament MVP, led the Falcons against the 14th-ranked Stags, tallying three goals and an assist. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Doug Gouchoe came up with eight second-half saves, allowing just three goals.

Air Force, ranked 17th in the final USILA coaches poll of the season and 18th in this week's Warrior media poll, enters the national tournament with a 10-5 overall record. The Falcons earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship by claiming the ECAC tournament championship.

Senior Mike Crampton has registered a team-leading 57 points on the year, scoring 41 goals and 16 assists, while junior Keith Dreyer has added 45 points, including a team-best 28 assists. The Falcons have three other players who have registered at least 30 points, with senior Tommy McKee tallying 39points (28g, 11a) and seniors Erik Smith (22g, 14a) and Kyle Cassady (23g, 13a) each adding 36 points.

Richmond, receiving votes in this week's media poll, enters the NCAA Championship with a 6-10 overall record on the season after capturing the Atlantic Sun tournament title. The Spiders, who are in their first season of competition, posted wins over Mercer (14-6) and High Point (8-7) in the conference tournament to receive the automatic bid.

Freshman Mitch Goldberg has scored a team-leading 31 goals on the season, while sophomore Brad Burnum has notched a team-high 23 assists. Goalkeeper Benny Pugh is averaging just over 10 saves per game, while holding a 9.34 goals against average.

This season, Air Force is making just its third NCAA appearance in program history and first since 1988. The Falcons first qualified for the NCAA Championship in 1971, dropping a 10-1 decision to Maryland in the first round. Meanwhile, Air Force took on Loyola in the 1988 NCAA Championship, falling to the Greyhounds, 19-8, in the regionals.

Air Force had four players named to the ECAC Championship all-tournament team, including most valuable player Keith Dreyer, who tallied 10 points in two games, including the gamewinner versus Fairfield. Joining Dreyer on the all-tournament team were seniors Mike Crampton and Erik Smith, along with sophomore goalkeeper Doug Gouchoe.

Junior Keith Dreyer was named the Air Force Athlete of the Week on May 5 after earning ECAC Tournament MVP honors. Dreyer scored 10 points on the weekend, including a team-leading six points in the Falcons' semifinal win over tournament host Ohio State, registering a goal and a career-high-tying five assists. In the championship game versus 14th-ranked Fairfield, Dreyer notched his first hat trick of the year, finishing with three goals and an assist, scoring the game-winner in the 9-8 Air Force victory.

While he ranks among the nation's assist leaders, junior Keith Dreyer found a way to find the back of the net himself when it mattered most, finishing with three goals in the win over Fairfield on Saturday. It marked the first hat trick of the season for Dreyer, and the fifth of his career.

Including Dreyer, Air Force has had six different players register hat tricks this season. Senior Mike Crampton has scored seven hat tricks, followed by Tommy McKee with two five hat tricks. Sophomore Christopher Allen has pitched in four hat tricks, senior Kyle Cassady has added three hat tricks and Erik Smith has registered two hat tricks this year.

Crampton currently leads the Falcons in career hat tricks with 23, while McKee ranks second on the team with 15.

Sophomore goalkeeper Doug Gouchoe has spent much of the season splitting time in goal with classmate Brett Dadiego, taking over duties between the pipes in the second half. Gouchoe turned in a pair of spectactular performances in the ECAC Tournament to help lead the Falcons to the title, recording a combined 16 saves and allowing just five goals in two halves of action. His biggest stops came in the final minutes of the Fairfield game, preventing the Stags from scoring a game-tying goal.

Air Force's victory over Ohio State last week was its first against the Buckeyes since 2009, when the Falcons won a 9-6 decision at the Academy. Meanwhile, it marked Air Force's first win over Ohio State in Columbus since 1994, when the Falcons escaped with an 11-10 victory over the Buckeyes.

In Air Force's ECAC semifinal win over Ohio State on Thursday, a pair of Falcons finished with hat tricks. Senior Mike Crampton registered five goals, scoring his seventh hat trick of the year, while sophomore Christopher Allen registered his fourth hat trick of the season.

So far this season, at least one Air Force player has scored a hat trick in 13 out of the Falcons' 15 games.

During the ECAC Tournament, senior Mike Crampton took over the top spot on Air Force's single-season goals list (modern era) with 40 goals in 2014. He is also just three points away from matching the Falcons' modern era single-season points mark of 60.

With his six assists against in the ECAC Tournament last week, junior Keith Dreyer brought his season total to 28, setting the single-season record in the Falcons' modern era. The previous mark of 27 assists was initially set by Will Meister in 2006, while Dreyer matched the record in 2012.

Air Force's 10 victories this season are the most by the Falcons since 1989, when the team finished the year with a 10-3 mark. The Falcons have also registered their first winning season since 1997, when Air Force posted a 7-5 overall ledger.

The winner of Wednesday's play-in game will travel to Durham, N.C., to face top-seed Duke in the NCAA First Round on Sunday, May 11. The game is slated to begin at 5:15 p.m. (ET) and will be aired on ESPNU.



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