Aug. 24, 2012
Falcons Open 2012 Campaign at Army
The Air Force Falcons open their 2011 season on Saturday, August 25 at service-academy rival Army. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (ET). The Falcons are coming off a 12-6-2 season a year ago, while Army went 7-10-1.
Last year, Hill led the Falcons to a 12-6-2 record, the team's first winning season since 2003. The Falcons finished second in the MPSF's Mountain Division and third in the entire league. Their season came to an end in the semis of the MPSF tournament with a 1-0 loss to CSU Bakersfield.
In his five seasons at the helm, Hill has coached 20 Falcons to all-conference honors, including five last season, all of whom were underclassmen. This season, Hill has 19 letterwinners and nine starters returning from last year's squad. In fact, 12 of the 15 players that notched at least one point last season are back.
Hill, who holds a United States Soccer Federation "A" license, graduated from the Academyin 1983 and was a four-year varsity letterman on the men's soccer team. He was chosen as team captain both his junior and senior seasons. In all four years, Hill helped the Falcons win the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Soccer League title. After graduation, he remained at AFA as the assistant soccer coach and a physical education instructor for one year.
Hill left the Academy in 1984 for Dyess AFB, Texas, where he was an instructor navigator in the C-130 aircraft. In addition, he assisted and filled in as the interim head soccer coach for the men's and women's soccer teams at Hardin Simmons University (Texas) from 1986-1988. He also played on the All-Air Force soccer team in 1985 and 1987 and coached the 1986 team.
Falcons Picked Third in MPSF Preseason Rankings
The Falcons were picked to finish in a tie with Denver for third place in the MPSF Preseason Coaches' Poll. New Mexico was predicted to repeat as MPSF champion after advancing to the round of 16 in last year's NCAA Tournament, picked just ahead of CSU Bakersfield, which earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament last year.
When asked about the 2012 Air Force men's soccer season, head coach Doug Hill is quick to point out that this is not a rebuilding year for his Falcons. With 19 letterwinners and nine starters returning, the expectations are as high as ever entering the campaign. The Falcons, who also lost just two of their top eight scorers from last season, are gunning for their first conference championship since 1986.
Coming off the team's first winning season in eight years, a 12-6-2 campaign that ended with a heartbreaking defeat in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, the Falcons had a very productive spring season and are looking to continue that momentum into the fall campaign.
Leading the way in 2012 are senior captains Kevin Durr, Eric Tise and Matt Underwood. Durr, the team's reigning two-time MVP and a first-team all-conference performer the last two years, led the squad in scoring with 22 points on six goals and 10 assists. His 10 assists ranked second in the MPSF and seventh nationally and were the most by a Falcon in one season since Marcus Sagastume had 13 in 2003. Durr also became AFA's first All-Far West region selection since 2005.
Fellow senior Garrett Getschow, who returned to the team last season after taking a leave of absence from the Academy for the 2010 campaign, is back after scoring a team-high nine goals, including three game-winners last year. Junior Brian Klazura also returns after posting six goals, including three game-winners of his own and two assists as a sophomore. Seniors Conor Henry (six points) and Zane Dydasco (five points) return some firepower up front and in the midfield.
Tise leads a defense that allowed just one goal per game in 2011 and returns three starters. Tise, an honorable mention all-MPSF pick last year, finished third among field players in minutes played last year. He notched two assists in '11, both coming on game-winning goals. Seniors Trevor Wade and Jake Jones also return to the back line after appearing in 20 and 19 games, respectively, last season. Senior Kevin Rossillon, junior Mitch Kim and sophomore Matt Payne will vie for playing time.
Underwood, meanwhile, returns as the starting goalie after earning honorable mention all-conference accolades for the second consecutive year in 2011. He posted an excellent 0.97 goals-against average last season, good for third in the conference. He also recorded five shutouts, the most by a Falcon keeper in one season since Mike Brophy had six in 2001. Underwood finished second in the MPSF with 80 saves and produced a career-high 11 saves in a scoreless tie at Denver.
The incoming class consists of 13 players that make up another strong recruiting class. Three come in from the AFA Prep school while seven of the recruits have played on U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams. Members of the Class of 2016 come from 10 different states.