DENVER, Colo. – Marcus Ward scored four goals and Chris Walsch added three to lead Air Force to a 15-10 victory over Canisius in the opening game of the Pioneer Faceoff Classic Saturday at the University of Denver’s Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
Ward and Walsch paced a potent Falcons (2-2) attack that established a new season high for goals. Nick Hruby and Grant Gould complimented the high-scoring duo of Walsch and Ward, chipping in two goals apiece.
Matthew Schwartz staked Air Force to a 1-0 lead at the 10:27 mark of the first quarter before two goals by Ward and a tally from Gould in a 2:25 span stretched the Falcons advantage to 4-0.
Kearnan got the Griffs on the board with his first of the game at the 4:27 mark of the first quarter and Coss scored with 7:54 remaining in the second frame to make it a 4-2 contest, but the Falcons used a pair of tallies from Walsch and individual markers from Cameron Carter and Jack Flynn to close the half on a 4-1 run and take an 8-3 lead into the locker room.
The teams traded man-up goals to open the third quarter before Walsch and Ward notched consecutive tallies to ignite a 5-1 Air Force spurt that lasted through the end of the frame and gave the Falcons their largest lead of the game, 14-5.
Coss attempted to ignite a Canisius comeback in the fourth, notching three straight goals while freshman Carter Stefaniak added his first career tally to cap a 4-0 spurt and bring the Griffs within five, 14-9, with 5:08 remaining.
Hruby stemmed the Canisius momentum just 56 seconds later with his second of the game before Kearnan added his third with 3:25 on the clock to determine the final margin.
Head Coach Randy Mearns Postgame Comments
“Air Force played a very good first half. They had the ball the majority of the time and just grinded out offensive possessions over and over again, so we were unable to get any momentum going early on.
“As we made some adjustments, we starting getting some chances in the later stages of the
contest. We were able to chip away a little bit in the fourth quarter, which was great, but we played out of sorts today. We were not sharp and when you play that way, you’re not going to win many games. We’ve got to watch the film, learn from our mistakes, and get ready to face a really good Denver team tomorrow.”
- Canisius moved to 1-4 all time against Air Force. The contest was the third meeting between the two programs at the Faceoff Classic (2013, 2014, 2017).
- Air Force out-shot Canisius, 42-21, for the contest, highlighted by a 32-5 advantage in the first half.
- The Falcons won 18-of-29 faceoffs in the contest, including 10-of-13 draws in the first half.
- Canisius was 2-for-2 in man up situations while Air Force was 2-for-3 with extra attacker.
- Junior Steven Coss recorded his first career hat trick with his four-goal effort on Saturday.
- Junior Connor Kearnan posted his second hat trick of the season and seventh of his career with his three-goal performance on Saturday.
- Freshman Carter Stefaniak posted his first collegiate tally with a four-quarter marker on Saturday.
- Senior Lewis Vaccaro and sophomore Mario Caito also scored for Canisius on Saturday.
- Junior Liam Ganzhorn got the start in goal for Canisius and made seven saves before being replaced in the fourth quarter by senior Thomas Zacher.
- Canisius wraps up its appearance in the Faceoff Classic Sunday with a 3:30 p.m. EST contest against No. 1/1 Denver at the Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.