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Academy earns 1st NCAA lacrosse tourney win; Mike Crampton sets season points mark

May 7, 2014 Updated: May 7, 2014 at 10:30 pm
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photo - Air Force midfielders Christopher Allen, left, and Erik Smith celebrate after Smith scored in the first quarter Wednesday, May 7, 2014, during a NCAA play-in game against Richmond at Falcon Stadium. The Falcons won 13-5 and advanced to face top-seeded Duke Sunday, May 11, 2014. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Air Force midfielders Christopher Allen, left, and Erik Smith celebrate after Smith scored in the first quarter Wednesday, May 7, 2014, during a NCAA play-in game against Richmond at Falcon Stadium. The Falcons won 13-5 and advanced to face top-seeded Duke Sunday, May 11, 2014. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Mike Crampton made history and assured his Air Force men's lacrosse team accomplished some of its own.

The senior attacker from Kinnelon, N.J., tallied four goals, including two of the first five Falcon scores and assisted another, to spark No. 17 Air Force past Richmond, 13-5, in an NCAA Division I Tournament play-in game.

It was the Falcons' first NCAA Tournament victory in three tries and its first tournament berth since 1988.

The win, which thrilled a crowd of 1,225, earned Air Force a 3:15 p.m. Sunday first-round game at No. 1 seed and defending champion Duke. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

"It is a pretty big deal. It says a lot about the work we have put in over the past four years," Crampton said. "It shows the kind of guys we have in the locker room."

Crampton's five points Wednesday night at Falcon Stadium established a single-season record with 62 points. The old mark was 60.

"That is more about teamwork and the play of the other guys setting me up," Crampton said.

ECAC playoffs champion Air Force used its superior overall speed to slash through the Spiders defense, creating a number of good scoring chances.

Crampton's second goal typified the memorable night he had. He took a pass and cut across the front of the Richmond net. He fought through defensive attempts by two Spider defenders and goalkeeper Benny Pugh to fire into a wide-open net and made it 5-1 with 6:33 left in the first half.

That prompted a Richmond timeout, but senior Erik Smith, the first Falcon to be drafted by Ma-jor League Lacrosse, scored the eventual game-winning goal 21 seconds later for a 6-1 halftime lead. The rout was on.

"We're a blue-collar team so to have hard work pay off like that is a great feeling," said Smith, who scored twice. "It's great to add our team to the Falcon record books."

Air Force tallied two in 24 seconds midway through the third quarter to stymie any hope of a Spiders rally.

Crampton converted a Richmond turnover three minutes later to record his 24th career hat trick. That goal set the points record. He added to it two minutes later with his fourth goal for a 10-1 command.

After AFA (11-5) went ahead 11-1, Atlantic Sun playoffs champion Richmond (6-11) scored twice in 25 seconds midway through the fourth to make it 11-3. The team traded goals in the closing minutes for the final margin.

"My hat's off to Richmond," Falcons coach Eric Seremet said.

"For a first-year program to make the NCAAs is really something. They will be a program to watch in the future."

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