COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The University of Pioneers halted a late comeback attempt by the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. amid whiteout conditions.
The Saturday matinee game was the season opener for the No. 4-ranked Pioneers (1-0, 0-0 BIG EAST). The No. 17 Falcons (0-2, 0-0 Southern) entered the game coming off of an 18-4 loss to Duke University.
Denver took the field fired up to embark on the 2018 season. The Pioneers scored immediately after the opening faceoff. Denver’s extraordinary faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste won possession. Starting defender Dylan Gaines joined the attack where the long-pole scored his first-career goal on the run.. The momentum continued throughout the first half as six different goal-scorers provided Denver with a 7-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The Falcons returned energized and scored back-to-back goals to cut the Pioneers lead down to five. While the Pioneers countered with three-goals, Air Force would diminish Denver’s lead incrementally, with a hat trick from junior midfielder Jack Flynn, as the Falcons offense rode the momentum.
Despite Air Force’s relentless pressure, the Pioneers held onto their lead. Junior attackman Austin French, scored his second-career hat trick in the second half to cushion the 11-5 final.
Due to the frigid and excessive snowfall an orange lacrosse ball was used for visibility. The conditions didn’t appear to hinder DU’s goalie Alex Ready, as the junior made 9 saves in the victory.
Only three penalties were administered as a result of the blizzard-like conditions. Air Force was on the receiving end of the first penalty which was called in the third minute of the second quarter. DU’s freshman attackman Riley Curtis converted on the man-up to record his first-career goal.
Baptiste went 9-for-18 at the, “X.” Air Force’s Trent Harper battled Baptiste’s power and finesse to earn nine faceoff wins.
Denver travels to Durham, North Carolina to face Duke University on Friday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. MT. The Pioneers will host Cleveland State on Sunday, Feb. 25 for their home-opener at 11 a.m.