DURHAM, N.C. – Giving up seven unanswered goals in the second period, the Air Force lacrosse team dropped a 20-9 decision to top-seed Duke Sunday evening in an NCAA first round match-up.
Senior captain Mike Crampton (Kinnelon, N.J.) led the Falcons’ offense with three goals and an assist, while fellow captain Kyle Cassady (Sr., Upper Arlington, Ohio) added his fourth hat trick of the season.
Tewaaraton finalist Jordan Wolf put Duke on the board just a minute into the contest, but Air Force was able to tie the score with a goal from Cassady. The Blue Devils responded with the next three tallies before Erik Smith (Sr., Golden, Colo.) found the back of the net with three minutes remaining in the opening period. However, a Duke goal with one second on the clock gave the Blue Devils a 5-2 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Air Force, ranked 17th in the nation, closed within two goals less than two minutes into the second period, as Crampton found Tommy McKee (Sr., Holt, Mich.) for his first score of the game. However, Duke put together a 7-0 spurt to close out the first half with a 12-3 lead.
The Falcons ended the Blue Devils’ run early in the third period with a score by Cassady at the 14:13 mark, but Duke registered the next three goals to extend its advantage to 15-4 midway through the quarter. The two teams traded goals over the last four minutes of the period, with McKee and Crampton scoring for Air Force, as Duke carried a 17-6 lead into the final stanza.
Duke tallied the first score of the fourth quarter, but Air Force notched the next three goals, including Crampton’s first career man-down score with just over five minutes to play. However, the Blue Devils added two more scores down the stretch for the 11-goal victory.
The Blue Devils dominated at the face-off X, winning 20-of-32 draws, and had a 40-28 advantage on ground balls. Duke also outshot Air Force, 52-35, for the game.
The Falcons end their season with an 11-6 overall record, posting their highest win total since 1988. Air Force also made its first NCAA appearance since 1988 and won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game with its play-in victory over Richmond.