Caitlin Ganam | Clarion

No. 4-ranked Pioneers took Air Force down 11-5, in their season opener at Air Force. Junior attackman Austin French (Danville, Calif.) recorded the second hat trick of his career, while junior close defenseman Dylan Gaines (Baltimore, Md.) scored his first career goal and the first goal of the game to lead the Pioneers against No. 17-ranked   Air Force.

Gaines began the scoring 28 seconds into the game after faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste, (Denville, N.J.) won a faceoff backwards. After spending most of last season at defensive midfield, sophomore Danny Logan (Upper Arlington, Ohio) scored in his first game back in the offensive midfield. Senior attackman Colton McCaffrey (Parker, Colo.) finished the scoring in the first quarter off an assist from French.

In the second quarter, McCaffrey scored his second goal from an assist off of junior Drew Supinski (Collegeville, Pa.) in Supinski’s first game after transferring from Johns Hopkins. Denver closed out scoring in the first half with goals from senior captain Sean Mayle (San Carlos, Calif.), junior midfielder Colton Jackson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and freshman Riley Curtis (Brampton, Ontario). Junior goaltender Alex Ready (Lancaster, Pa.) had a first half shut out, making six saves to leave the score at 7-0.

In the second half, Air Force scored twice, but were answered by French, who scored his first two goals of the game with assists from McCaffrey and co-captain Connor Donahue (Groton, Mass.). Senior Jeremy Bosher (Kamloops, B.C.) completed the 3-0 run for the Pioneers off a feed from sophomore Ethan Walker (Peterborough, Ontario), ending the third quarter at 10-2.

In the fourth quarter, French finished his hat trick, after a scoring run from Air Force, with an assist from Jackson to end a 17-minute scoring drought for the Pioneers, leaving the final score at 11-5.

“I’m really proud of the way we started the game,” Head Coach Bill Tierney said, following the match. “It’s the first win of the season on a very rough day to play. I thought in the second half we got a little complacent, but that’s a credit to Air Force for the runs they were able to go on. Overall, it was just a crazy day. It’s a matter of just taking this win, and now we move on to Duke on Friday night.”

Denver will make the first of its six cross-country trips next week when the Pioneers travel to No.2-ranked Duke on Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU and ESPN Denver 1600.