We’re back again with the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we’ll go through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we start things off with the United States Air Force Academy, located over a mile high in Colorado Springs, CO.
Air Force jumped out as an immediate team to watch in last year’s Alphabetical Preview, and the AFA did not disappoint. From 6-7 in 2012 to 7-7 with some very tight one goal (twice in OT) losses to big time programs in 2013, Air Force made progress. They were almost always competitive, and brought back a lot of returning talent. 2014 looks like much of the same, as the AFA returns a solid core of scorers and defensive players. On offense, the depth is impressive and proven. Now that these players are Seniors and Juniors look for them to really shine.
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Their 2014 schedule is solid, and if Air Force doesn’t come away with at least 8 wins, it will be a disappointment. A win over Denver, Ohio State, or Fairfield would be huge, and a 12-win season is not out of the question if things fall into place. Only six of their games are at home, but the AFA can play tough on the road.
The biggest personnel loss for Air Force is probably Austin Fox. Fox had a solid Senior year in net, and the Falcons will be looking to either a sophomore or freshman to fill the void. Doug Gouchoe saw a little time last year, but was very limited in action. Brett Dadiego and Mitch Rose are the other two goalies on the roster. Puleo and Gunter return on defense, and talented LSM Kyle O’Brien returns for his Junior year. With experience in front of a young goalie, the AFA could be okay. Bryan Price saw some success at the face off ex, and if he has a good Senior year, that could help alleviate some of the pressure on a young keeper.
Air Force isn’t going to sneak up on anyone this year, but I still think they will play competitive lacrosse. Coach Eric Semeret has the program headed in the right direction, and after a solid 2013, 2014 could be a breakout year for the Falcons. If their goaltending issue becomes a strength, the Falcons are a solid Top 20 team this year.