RICHMOND, Va. – Air Force sophomore Andrew Tien found the back of the net 50 seconds into overtime to lift the top-seeded Falcons past Richmond 9-8 on Saturday in the 2016 Southern Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship at Robins Stadium on the campus of the University of Richmond.
The 12th-ranked Falcons, a SoCon newcomer in 2016, are now 15-2 and earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The Spiders close the season at 11-4.
Tien’s sudden-victory score gave the San Diego, Calif., native a hat trick to go along with an assist. Sophomore Nick Hruby also tallied a hat trick for Air Force, and freshman Cameron Carter scored two goals on the day to help lead the Falcons to victory.
Junior attacker J.P. Forester netted four scores to lead Richmond, while teammate Jean-Luc Chetner scored a pair and assisted a pair in the losing effort.
It was Air Force that opened the game’s scoring, as Carter found the back of the net from close range at the 12:36 mark of the first period. The Spiders countered with a 2-0 spurt from Forester (9:49) and Chetner (5:54). Air Force’s Chris Walsch knotted the contest at 2-all with 5:05 to play in quarter one by firing a shot that made the ball settle and eventually roll past the goal line.
Richmond stretched its advantage to 4-2 in the second quarter. Forester netted his second goal of the game with 8:11 left in the half on a breakaway opportunity, and a few minutes later, junior attacker Dan Ginestro gave the Spiders a two-goal cushion. Hruby provided a big response, pulling the Falcons even at 4-all by scoring twice in the final four minutes of the half.
Tien’s overtime heroics were set up by a rainy and wild fourth quarter, which followed a third quarter that saw the two teams exchange goals to make the contest 5-5. Hruby sparked an Air Force assault with a diving score in front of the goal at the 13:01 mark. Carter then scored off an assist from Walsch 37 seconds later, and Tien gave the Falcons an 8-5 lead by firing one past Richmond goalkeeper Benny Pugh with 10:03 left to play.
Dan Chemotti’s club fought back, though, rattling off three straight goals during a window that stretched from 7:22 to 2:57 in the fourth quarter. Forester scored the first goal of the run off an assist from Chetner, and freshman Ryan Lee proceeded to convert on a man-up chance. Chetner then flipped the script by finding the net off an assist from Forester to tie the game at 8-8 with 2:57 left. Air Force had the last possession of regulation coming out of a timeout with 12.4 seconds left. A last-second shot found the stick of Richmond’s Pugh as time expired.
Gouchoe, the SoCon’s Defensive Player of the Year, tallied 10 saves and a .556 save percentage on the day for Air Force. He earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament.
Pugh and redshirt junior Henry Buonagurio split time in goal for Richmond. They combined for 11 saves and a .550 save percentage.
The Falcons fired 33 shots to the Richmond’s 26, while the Spiders held a 26-23 advantage in ground balls.
Air Force will find out its NCAA tournament draw on Sunday at 9 p.m. The selection show will be broadcast on ESPNU.
SoCon Men’s Lacrosse Championship Awards
Most Outstanding Player
Doug Gouchoe, Air Force, Sr., GK
Christopher Allen, Air Force, Sr., M
Doug Gouchoe, Air Force, Sr., GK
Andrew Tien, Air Force, So., A
Chris Walsch, Air Force, So. A
Alex Warden, Air Force, Sr., D
Michael Plisco, Bellarmine, Sr., M
Brian Wall, Bellarmine, So., M
Richard Byrd, High Point, Sr., M
Joseph Taulane, High Point, R-Sr., M
J.P. Forester, Richmond, Jr., A
Teddy Hatfield, Richmond, Fr., A
Brendan Hynes, Richmond, Jr., LSM