March 15, 2014

Smith, Air Force Hold Off Jacksonville

from Press Release

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Buoyed by a stellar first-period performance, the Air Force lacrosse team picked up a 15-12 non-conference road victory over Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Falcons improve to 4-3 on the season, while the Dolphins drop to 1-5.

Jacksonville was first to get on the scoreboard, taking advantage of a man-up opportunity to find the back of the net just a minute and a half into the first period. However, senior captain Kyle Cassady (Upper Arlington, Ohio) tallied his first goal of the contest at the 11:15 mark, sparking a run of seven straight scores by the Falcons, as Air Force took a 7-1 lead into the second quarter.

The Dolphins stopped Air Force's run with two early goals to start the second period, but the Falcons tallied three straight scores, including back-to-back man-up goals by Christopher Allen (So., Hillsborough, N.J.) and Cassady, to gain a 10-3 advantage. However, Jacksonville closed out the period with two more goals to cut the margin to 10-5 at the half.

The third period was low scoring for both teams, with just three combined goals. Jacksonville was first to score, before Allen registered a man-up goal midway through the quarter to push the Falcons' lead back to five. However, the Dolphins notched a goal with just five seconds remaining in the period, bringing the score to 11-7 going into the final stanza.

Senior captain Erik Smith (Golden, Colo.) opened up the scoring in the fourth quarter, pushing Air Force's lead back to five goals before a man-up goal by Jacksonville brought the Dolphins back within four. Smith answered with another tally to give the Falcons a 13-8 lead with 10:32 remaining, but Jacksonville took advantage of a two-minute non-releasable penalty on Air Force, scoring two quick man-up goals to cut the margin to 13-10.

With more than a minute remaining on the penalty, the Falcons were able to get on the board with a man-up goal by junior long-stick midfielder Kyle O'Brien (Denver, Colo.) and killed the remainder of the penalty. However, the Dolphins responded with a score at the seven-minute mark to get back within three. Smith's third goal of the day came with 5:29 left to play, and Jacksonville was unable to get back on the scoreboard until the final 30 seconds, as Air Force held on for the win. The Falcons used a balanced offensive attack, with three different players--Cassady, Allen and Smith--registering hat tricks, while Mike Crampton (Sr., Kinnelon, N.J.) and Tommy McKee (Sr., Holt, Mich.) added two scores each. In addition, Keith Dreyer (Jr., Malvern, Pa.) registered a goal and a team-leading three assists. Meanwhile, Tom Moore led the Dolphins' offense, tallying four goals and three assists.

Air Force outshot Jacksonville for the game, 43-34, including a 31-13 edge in the first half. The Falcons also committed just four turnovers in the first 30 minutes, before finishing with 15 for the game. The battle at the face-off X was even, with Air Force holding the advantage in the first half (10-of-16), while Jacksonville held the edge in the second half (9-of-14).

Smith, who had an assist to go along with his three goals, also won of 9-of-13 face-offs for the Falcons and picked up a team-leading six ground balls.

"Erik Smith had a great game," said Air Force head coach Eric Seremet. "Today he proved why he is a true leader and will be a great value to the Air Force. He is tough as nails."

"Kyle Cassady and Chris Allen stepped up as well," continued Seremet. "We were concerned about their goalie, and our guys adjusted well."

Jacksonville's starting goalkeeper, Pete DeLuca, one of the nation's leaders in saves per game, registered just three saves and 10 goals against, before giving way to back-up goalie Bass Barfield, who recorded four saves. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Doug Gouchoe (Concord, Mass.) tallied a career-high 11 saves for the Falcons.

Air Force is back in action next Sunday, March 23, with a non-conference contest at Binghamton.

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