In front of a crowd of 1,225, the Air Force lacrosse team picked up a 13-5 victory over Richmond in an NCAA Play-in Game held at Falcon Stadium Wednesday evening. The Falcons (11-5), with their first-ever NCAA Tournament win, advance to the NCAA First Round to take on top-seed Duke Sunday in Durham, N.C.
Senior captain Mike Crampton (Kinnelon, N.J.) led the Falcons’ offense with four goals and as assist, while junior Keith Dreyer (Malvern, Pa.) tallied three assists. Meanwhile, sophomore Brett Dadiego (Baldwin, N.Y.) had a spectacular performance between the pipes in the opening half, registering eight saves while allowing just one goal.
It was a slow start for the Falcons’ offense, which didn’t get its first goal until the 7:05 mark in the opening period, as Crampton found the back of the net with an assist from Christopher Allen (So., Hillsborough, N.J.). Richmond evened up the score with three and a half minutes left in the quarter, but Air Force regained the lead with a tally from Erik Smith (Sr., Golden, Colo.).
The Falcons went on to shut out the Spiders in the second period, outscoring Richmond 4-0. Kyle Cassady (Sr., Upper Arlington, Ohio) found the back of the net two minutes into the quarter, followed by a score by Tommy McKee (Sr., Holt, Mich.)with 12:30 on the clock. Midway through the period, Air Force added back-to-back scores by Crampton and Erik Smith just 30 seconds apart, as the Falcons went into the intermission with a 6-1 advantage.
Air Force put together another 4-0 period after the break, with McKee opening the third period scoring with just over seven minutes to play in the quarter. Sophomore defenseman Luke Leathers (Parker, Colo.) tallied his first career goal after a successful clear on the ensuing face-off, while Crampton closed out the period with two more scores.
The Falcons pushed their advantage to double digits early in the final stanza with an unassisted score by Allen, before Richmond ended its scoring drought with back-to-back goals midway through the period. Air Force responded with scores from James Burke (Jr., Pittsford, N.Y.) and Austin Smith (Fr., Golden, Colo.) to regain a 10-goal lead, but the Spiders closed out the game with two more tallies to account for the final margin.
Air Force outshot Richmond, 38-21, for the game, and had a 37-25 advantage on ground balls. The Falcons also won the battle at the face-off X, particularly in the second half, winning 8-of-12 face-offs in the final two periods.
“We knew Richmond was going to make things a little bit chaotic at times, and they did,” said head coach Eric Seremet. “We tried to emphasize that the last few days of practice. I thought the kids did a good job of playing through tonight and understanding how big it is. We have bigger goals.”
Air Force 13, Richmond 5
Richmond – 1 0 0 4 – 5
Air Force – 2 4 4 3 – 13