May 21, 2014
USAFA, Colo. - Several members of the Air Force lacrosse team were honored Wednesday evening at the Falcons' annual awards banquet. Earning the team's top award as most valuable player was senior captain Mike Crampton.
Crampton, a native of Kinnelon, N.J., earned his second-straight team MVP honors after leading the Falcons to an 11-6 overall record, including an ECAC title and NCAA tournament bid. The ECAC Offensive Player of the Year finished the 2014 season with 66 points, including a team-high 48 goals, setting program records for most goals and points in a single season (modern era), while also setting modern-era records for career goals (127) and points (177). Additionally, Crampton, who registered nine hat tricks on the season, finished the year ranked among the nation's leaders in both goals per game (12th) and points per game (16th).
Crampton, who was also tabbed the Falcons' offensive MVP, closed out his career ranked seventh all-time at the Academy in career goals and ninth in career points. He also became just the 11th player in school history to reach 100 goals for his career.
Earning the team's defensive MVP honors was sophomore Alex Warden (Glen Mills, Pa.). A second-team All-ECAC pick on defense, Warden started all 17 games for the Falcons, picking up 29 ground balls for the Falcons and sharing the team lead with 16 caused turnovers.
Garnering Rookie of the Year honors was freshman Austin Smith (Golden, Colo.). A mainstay on the Falcons' second midfield line, Smith was one of just two freshmen to play in all 17 games this season, earning four starts, including three on attack. An ECAC all-rookie honoree, Smith finished the season with 16 points (11g, 5a), with an impressive .733 shooting percentage, scoring his 11 goals on just 15 shots.
Earning the Most Improved Award were seniors Marcus Walker and Kyle Cassady. Walker made the transition to the defensive midfield spot in 2013, strengthening Air Force's lineup at that position. A native of Denver, Colo., Walker ranked fifth on the team in total ground balls with 32, while also posting five goals and three assists for the season.
Meanwhile, Cassady, a midfielder from Upper Arlington, Ohio, scored a career-high 40 points in 2014, tallying 27 goals and 13 assists on the year. The team captain earned second-team All-ECAC honors at midfield as he emerged as yet another offensive threat for Air Force. Cassady, who scored four hat tricks on the season, was also one of the Falcons' top performers in man-up situations, tallying five man-up scores on the season, and was awarded the Falcons' Unsung Hero Award, granted to the player or players who contribute most to the team's success without getting the recognition
Sharing the Unsung Hero Award with Cassady were classmates Tommy McKee (Holt, Mich.) and Matt Puleo (Whitehouse Station, N.J.). McKee was one of the key figures on the Falcons' potent offense, finishing second on the team in goals with 32 and third on the team in total points with 43. A second-team All-ECAC selection on attack, McKee was one of the top goal scorers in the league, despite battling injury through much of the season. Meanwhile, Puleo, a first-team All-ECAC pick on defense, continued his stellar four-year career as a starter for the Falcons, recording 18 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers on the year.
Senior captain Erik Smith (Golden, Colo.) also captured a pair of awards, earning the Ground Ball Award and Face-Off Award. For the fourth straight season, the midfielder led the Falcons in total ground balls, picking up 61 ground balls in 2014, while setting the program record for ground balls in a career (231). Smith, who finished tied for fourth on the team in total points (40), was also productive at the face-off X, winning 57.9 percent of his face-offs for the season.
Additionally, senior Taylor Hanley (Kensington, Md.) was honored with the Pace Weber Award for the second-straight season. The Pace Weber Award 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.
The 2014 season was one of the most successful seasons in Falcons' history, as the team compiled an 11-6 overall record and 3-1 mark in the ECAC Lacrosse League, to secure its first winning season since 1997 and highest win total since 1988. The Falcons, led by ECAC Coach of the Year Eric Seremet, were able to clinch a share of the regular season conference title before going on to win the ECAC Tournament title, earning their first NCAA bid since 1988. Air Force went on to host Richmond in the NCAA play-in game, capturing its first NCAA tournament win in program history, before dropping a first-round match-up to top-seeded Duke, the reigning national champion.
2014 Air Force Lacrosse Awards
MVP: Mike Crampton
MVP Offense: Mike Crampton
MVP Defense: Alex Warden
Rookie of the Year: Austin Smith
Most Improved: Marcus Walker/Kyle Cassady
Ground Ball Award: Erik Smith
Face-Off Award: Erik Smith
Unsung Hero Award: Kyle Cassady/Tommy McKee/Matt Puleo
Pace Weber Award: Taylor Hanley