Falcons Open Regular-Season This Weekend in California
Aug 28, 2013
Falcons Open 2013 Campaign on West Coast
Falcons Picked Second in WAC Preseason Rankings
Air Force Downs 11th-Ranked New Mexico in Exhibition Game
Air Force Head Coach Doug Hill
Back to the WAC
2013 Season Preview
"It is always difficult to replace 10 seniors and eight starters' game experience in one year, but many players will have the opportunity to step up to the challenge," said Hill. "Of course we are rebuilding a bit this year, but we look to surprise a lot of teams this season. The silver lining is that we are hosting the conference championships this year and look forward to playing that in our home stadium."
Leading the way in 2013 are senior captains Caleb Downey and Brian Klazura. Downey, a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honorable mention last season, scored three goals, including two game-winners against nationally-ranked New Mexico. He scored the game's only goal less than four minutes into overtime as Air Force upset the fifth-ranked Lobos in Albuquerque, then notched the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over eighth-ranked UNM just one week later at Cadet Soccer Stadium.
Klazura, meanwhile, had three goals and one assist for seven points last season. He scored a golden goal 12 minutes into overtime to lead AFA past CSU Bakersfield 2-1 in the MPSF semifinals, setting up the championship game against New Mexico at the Lobos' home field, which the Falcons then captured the title by defeating UNM in penalty kicks. Klazura also notched the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Villanova to clinch the Penn Soccer Classic title for Air Force.
Junior Scott McGillivray tied Klazura for the scoring lead among underclassmen last season with seven points on two goals and three assists. He fired 22 shots, with seven on goal, in 2012. Fellow juniors Matt Payne (one goal), Alex Frazier (one assist) and Luke Welch (four games, zero points) are expected to challenge for starting spots this season, as is Zachary Modly, who did not play last season after notching six points as a freshman in 2011.
Four returning sophomores appeared in varsity games last season. Jacob Laporte (nine games), Joey Haug (four), Ben Kern (three) and Connor Dunbaker (two) will look for expended playing time in 2013. The team's leading freshman scorer last season, Abinadi Samayoa (two goals), is taking the 2013-14 academic year off for a mission and expected to return for the 2014 campaign.
The incoming class consists of 13 players that make up another strong recruiting class. The class includes eight Development Academy players with two coming from the USAFA Prep School. Members of the Class of 2017 come from 10 different states.
"Our new recruits will be looked at to step in right away and make contributions," said Hill. "My staff did an outstanding job bringing in a strong quality class this year that will add strength and needed depth to our team. It was tough for any freshmen to break in the starting lineup last year with a heavy weighted senior class, but this year there are some opportunities for these players to compete with only four seniors."
The class is highlighted by the two prep schoolers, Blake Elder (Fort Worth, TX) and Ryan Ward (Frisco, TX), as well as direct entries Jake Schenk (Flemington, NJ), Kenton McGuire (Vancouver, WA), Cameron Duley (Roswell, GA), A.J. Esparza (Chandler, AZ) and Tucker Axhoj (Waxhaw, PA).
The Falcons, who re-join the Western Athletic Conference this season after spending the last 14 years in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, will open the regular season on Friday, August 30 at St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif. After playing at the University of San Francisco on Sunday, Sept. 1, Air Force hosts service-academy rival Army in the first home game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Cadet Soccer Stadium.
"Our non-conference schedule is one of the toughest we have had with high RPI teams like St. Mary's, USF, Oregon State, Portland, Bradley, Cal Poly and San Diego State," said Hill, who enters his seventh season as head coach. "It should prepare us well for our conference play. Our players need to gain experience quickly so we are putting them right into the fire starting with two tough exhibition games with Denver University (Aug. 18 in Vail, Colo.) and New Mexico (Aug. 22 at the Academy)."
The eight-team Western Athletic Conference will split into two four-team divisions for the 2013 campaign. Air Force is with Grand Canyon, Houston Baptist and UMKC and will play each of those schools in a home-and-home series. The Falcons will play the four schools in the other division, San Jose State, UNLV, Seattle University and CSU Bakersfield, just one time for a total of 10 conference games.
The WAC Tournament will begin on Thurs., Nov. 14, with the semifinals scheduled for Friday, Nov. 15 and the title game set for Sunday, Nov. 17. The entire tournament will be played at the Academy.