February 16, 2012

Air Force Opens Versus Rutgers at Neutral-Site

from press release

The Air Force lacrosse team opens the 2012 season this weekend, Feb. 19, when it heads to Syracuse, N.Y., for a neutral site contest against Rutgers in the Carrier Dome. The game is slated to begin at 11:00 a.m. (ET).

Game Information

Live Stats/Video: suathletics.com

Series History: Rutgers leads, 6-1

Last Meeting: The Scarlet Knights registered a 14-5 home victory over the Falcons on March 23, 1997.

Scouting the Falcons...

Air Force, which won five of its last seven games in 2011 to finish the year with a 6-7 overall record, takes the field this season with 27 returning letterwinners and six of 10 starters from last year. Returning defensive starters include senior captain Dayton Gilbreath, a three-time all-conference honoree and preseason All-ECAC selection, as well as sophomore Matt Puleo. Sophomore Erik Smith is the leading returning point scorer for the Falcons, after registering 29 points (including a team-best 16 assists) in 2011, as well as leading the team in face-offs and picking up a team-best 64 ground balls last year.

Sophomores Mike Crampton and Kyle Cassady also return to help lead the Falcons' offense, scoring 24 and 16 points, respectively, last season. Crampton's 16 goals in 2011 are the most among Air Force returners this year. Rounding out the group of returning starters is senior Adam Paranka, who has registered a team-best 50 points over his career, including 12 points (6g, 6a) in 2011.

Head coach Eric Serement...

Eric Seremet enters his fourth season at the helm of the Air Force lacrosse program. During the 2009 campaign, Seremet, a seven-year assistant for the Falcons, took over the reins from legendary coach Fred Acee, who retired following more than four decades in the coaching profession.

Last season, Seremet guided a young team to a 6-7 overall record and a 3-3 ledger in ECAC action. In addition to tying for third place in the league standings, the Falcons won five of their last seven contests to reach six wins for just the third time in 14 years.

Seremet, a 1992 North Carolina graduate, guided the Falcons to a 7-7 overall ledger in 2009, including a 4-1 record in the Great Western Lacrosse League and a second-place conference finish. Air Force's seven wins were the most since 2006 and more than in the previous two seasons combined, while the team finished at .500 for the first time since 1997. In 2010, Seremet helped lead the Falcons to an 8-7 overtime victory over service academy rival Army, marking the first-ever win for the Falcons over the rival Black Knights in Army's first trip to the Academy.

Scouting The Scarlet Knights...

Rutgers enters this weekend's game with an 0-1 record on the season, after dropping a 16-8 decision to third-ranked Duke in their season opener.

The Scarlet Knights are coached by Brian Brecht, in his first year at the helm of the program. Leading Rutgers' offense against the Blue Devils was senior Will Mangan, who registered three points (2g, 1a), while Nick DePaolera and Mike Diehl added two goals each. Meanwhile, junior goalkeeper Rudy Butler was credited with 16 saves against Duke.

Season Openers...

The Falcons are 29-16 all-time in season openers and have won four of their last eight season openers.

Air Force is opening the season away from home for the third time in the past six seasons, with all three of those games held at neutral sites. The Falcons began the 2009 season at a neutral site game in Jacksonville, Fla., dropping a 15-4 contest to third-ranked Maryland, while falling to Siena, 11-6, last season in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

We're Still Young...

For the second-straight season, Air Force's squad is characterized by its youth. Of the 47 players listed on the current roster, 33 are underclassmen, with 17 sophomores and 16 freshmen. Meanwhile, the Falcons' junior and senior classes are both seven members deep.

Moving to Falcon Stadium...

For the second-straight year, Air Force is scheduled to play all of its home games at Falcon Stadium, the home venue for the Academy's football team. Air Force played two of its games at Falcon Stadium in 2010, including its first-ever victory over service academy rival Army.

Preseason All-ECAC...

For the third-straight season, Dayton Gilbreath has been named to the Preseason All-ECAC team as a defensive selection. Gilbreath, a senior team captain from Bainbridge Island, Wash., is a four-year starter for the Falcons on defense. He has earned all-conference honors in each of his first three seasons, earning the accolade as a member of the GWLL in 2009 and the ECAC in 2010 and 2011. He was also named the GWLL Newcomer of the Year in his rookie season. Air Force's top cover man, Gilbreath finished the 2011 season with 30 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers.

Preseason ECAC Rankings...

In the preseason ECAC rankings voted on by the league's coaches, Air Force was selected to finish fifth in the conference. Denver, the two-time defending ECAC champion and 2011 national semifinalist, was chosen to claim its third league title. Loyola was picked to finish second, followed by Fairfield and Ohio State in third and fourth place, respectively. Rounding out the team projections were Air Force, Hobart and Bellarmine.

Find Us On Facebook...

Air Force lacrosse is now on Facebook. For even more up-to-date information about the Falcons, including videos, links, photos and events, visit the Air Force Lacrosse page on Facebook (facebook.com/AFLacrosse) and click "Like."

Up Next...

The Falcons travel up to Denver, Colo., next weekend, Feb. 25-26, for the annual Pioneer Face-Off Classic, hosted by conference rival Denver. Air Force will face Robert Morris on Saturday, while taking on Michigan on Sunday. Both games are slated to begin at 11:00 a.m. at the Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

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