Army vs. Air Force
March 6, 2004
The Game Story:
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army scored twice in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and then ripped the game-winner 48 seconds into overtime to rally past No. 14 Air Force, 11-10, Saturday afternoon in front of 1,249 fans at Shea Stadium. It was the 11th consecutive victory over the Falcons for the Black Knights, who remain perfect against their service-academy rivals in the overall series.

Jeff Bryan raced down the far sideline, throwing a laser past Air Force goalie Justin Pavoni to cut a two-goal Falcons lead in half with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left in the contest. John Walker then completed the comeback in an unsettled situation in front of the Air Force cage. The preseason All-American scooped up a loose ball after his initial shot was blocked and bounced a shot past Pavoni with just 36 ticks left on the game clock.

From there, Erik Mineo won the overtime faceoff and Jake Couch won the game with his second goal of the game 48 seconds into the extra session. It marked the second straight year that the Black Knights sent the Falcons home disappointed on an overtime winner. Last season, Chris Woods buried a shot in double OT, lifting Army to an 8-7 victory.

Mineo was credited with 11 wins on the faceoff in 14 attempts. Army held a 16-9 advantage on the draw overall.

"We thought Mineo was getting the best of (Air Force faceoff middie Greg Kantz) all day," Emmer said. "And the overtime faceoff is always very important."

Army (1-1) controlled the draw with Mineo winning the ball forward and scooping up the grounder himself. He handed off to Bryan, who patiently waited inside the box for his midfielders to change up. The ball swung all the way around the perimeter and behind the goal until it came back to Bryan on the near side. He broke to his left and started back behind the cage, when Bryan spotted Couch 18 feet in front just to the right of Pavoni. The birthday boy let it rip, beating Pavoni knee-high just inside far post.

Couch, who turned 21 Saturday along with twin brother Chris, finished with one goal and one assist. Chris Couch picked up an assist on his birthday as well.

Walker finished with his second hat trick in as many games and ninth of his career. Walker has now scored a goal in 15 consecutive games and leads the team in scoring this season with seven goals. Bryan added two assists to his fourth-quarter goal. Jim Wagner scored twice in the third quarter and registered an assist.

Air Force (2-1) had seemingly taken control of the match midway through the final quarter, scoring three of the first four goals in the fourth to open up a 10-8 lead with six minutes left. However, the Black Knights would not quit and Bryan converted a costly Falcons' turnover into a goal with two minutes to go.

"The win is a testament to this group," Emmer said. "They persevered at the end and performed in the clutch."

Army took its only lead in regulation (7-6) in the third quarter when Wagner finished off a three-goal run over a two-minute span to put the Black Knights in front. The southpaw sandwiched goals around Jon Burton's second of the season to give the hosts the advantage.

After a four-goal spurt gave the momentum back to the visitors, Army countered with a beautiful individual effort by defenseman Matt Luyster to draw the Black Knights to within one, 9-8. Luyster picked up his first collegiate goal when he traversed the length of the field on a clear and darted to the cage unmarked. The Falcons defense finally slid to cover the Army long stick, however, Luyster cut in front of Pavoni and shoveled an underhand shot past the Falcons' goalie at 9:45 of the fourth quarter.

Air Force was led by Justin Kuchta's four goals. William Keleher and William Meister each scored twice and posted an assist.

Matt Darak made 15 saves in the cage for the Black Knights to even his record at 1-1 on the year. Pavoni stopped 17 shots.

Army opens its Patriot League slate Tuesday evening with a faceoff versus Holy Cross at Shea Stadium at 7 p.m.