May 17, 2011
USAFA, Colo. - Several members of the Air Force lacrosse team were honored Monday evening at the Falcons' annual awards banquet. Earning the team's top award as most valuable player was senior captain Vinny Sandtorv.
Sandtorv, a native of Centereach, N.Y., earned second-team All-ECAC honors as a midfielder for the second-straight season to help lead the Falcons to a 6-7 overall record and a 3-3 conference ledger. Also named the Falcons' offensive MVP, Sandtorv finished the season with a team- and career-best 33 points, including a team- and career-high 27 goals. Starting all 13 games for the Falcons at both attack and midfield, Sandtorv also posted career-high numbers in assists (six), ground balls (24) and man-up goals (seven), leading the Falcons in the latter category.
Meanwhile, junior Dayton Gilbreath, a native of Bainbridge Island, Wash., was named the Falcons' defensive MVP for the second-straight season. A three-time all-conference honoree, including a second-team All-ECAC selection this year, Gilbreath was responsible for shutting down the opponents' top scorer. This season, he registered a career-best 30 ground balls, while also finishing second on the team in caused turnovers with 14.
With as many as five freshmen in the starting lineup for the Falcons this season, the Rookie of the Year award was one of the toughest to decide, but the honor went to freshman Erik Smith (Golden, Colo.), who also earned the Ground Ball Award and Face-Off Award. Smith, named one of the top freshmen in the nation by Inside Lacrosse, started all 13 games at midfield for the Falcons. Contributing in all areas of the game, Smith was Air Force's top face-off midfielder, winning a team-best 52.5 percent of his draws (83-of-158), while also leading the team with 64 ground balls. In addition, Smith was a potent weapon on offense, finishing second on the team in points scored with 29, including a team-best 16 assists.
Senior defenseman Benson Oldmixon, a native of Austin, Texas, was the recipient of this year's Most Improved Award.Starting in 10 games this season, Oldmixon helped anchor the Falcons' defense which allowed just 8.6 goals per contest, the team's best defensive average since 2006.
Earning the Falcons' Unsung Hero Award, granted to the player who contributes most to the team's success without getting the recognition, was senior captain Tristan Newkirk (Albany, N.Y.). After spending his first three seasons as a midfielder, Newkirk made the switch to defense this year in an effort to improve the team. In his first year with a long pole, Newkirk had a strong season, finishing the year with 14 ground balls and ranked third on the team with 12 caused turnovers.
Meanwhile, senior Woody Johnson (Davidsonville, Md.) was also honored with the Pace Weber Award, which is presented yearly as a tribute to C1C Pace Weber, who perished along with his instructor in a T-3 flight training accident here at the Academy. Voted on by members of the team, the recipient is an individual who most exemplifies the characteristics by which Pace Weber lived his life.
2011 Air Force Lacrosse Awards
MVP: Vinny Sandtorv
MVP Offense: Vinny Sandtorv
MVP Defense: Dayton Gilbreath
Rookie of the Year: Erik Smith
Most Improved: Benson Oldmixon
Ground Ball Award: Erik Smith
Face-Off Award: Erik Smith
Unsung Hero Award: Tristan Newkirk
Pace Weber Award: Woody Johnson