Kickoff is 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, in Laramie.
Falcons play UNM Friday and SDSU Sunday.
Five seniors to be honored on Friday vs. Boise State.
Falcons duel Rebels on Friday, Oct. 5. Kickoff at 6 p.m. at Cadet Soccer Stadium.
Falcons open conference play Sunday, Sept. 30 in Fresno. Kickoff is 1 p.m. PST.
Air Force vs. Lamar - Aug. 17, 2012
Air Force vs. Boise State - Aug. 27, 2010 (Gallery II)
Larry Friend enters his third season as head coach of the United States Air Force Academy women's soccer program. He is the second head coach to lead the Falcons in their 18-year history.
Friend had the unenviable task of competing in a tough Mountain West Conference his first year in 2009 with one of the youngest teams in the nation. The 2009 Falcons featured 12 freshmen and 11 sophomores, and just three upperclassmen. With the lack of experienced players, the Falcons posted a 2-15-1 record. Sophomore forward Bridgett Murphy was one of AFA's bright spots, earning her second All-Mountain West Conference honor.
The bumps and bruises of playing with such a yount team in 2009 paid off last year, as a more experienced 2010 squad improved by six wins, to a succussful 8-9-2 record, despite having no seniors on the team. The eight wins were the most since 2001 and the program had its fewest losses ever in the Div. I era. Air Force scored 21 goals on the season, doubling the 10 goals scored in 2009. The Falcon defense had a fantastic season, allowing 0.91 goals per game and producing seven shutouts. The 0.91 GAA average was the second-lowest in school history and the lowest since joining the MW.
Friend was an assistant at Air Force from 1992-1996 and 2002-2008. He started the women's soccer program with former head coach Marty Buckley while on active duty in 1992. In their second season, the team broke into the top 20 of the NCAA Division II weekly rankings. They continued to improve each year with consistent top 20 NCAA rankings. By the fourth season, the 1995 team achieved a 14-3-2 record with an NCAA Division II ranking of seventh in the nation. They missed the NCAA championship round of eight by one slot, but produced their first All American selection that season.
In 1996, Friend helped Buckley and the Falcons transition from Division II to Division I. They coached the team to its first Division I tournament appearance in the Western Athletic Conference Championships. In 1997, Friend returned to his flying career.
After 12 years as an assistant coach, Friend looked forward to the challenge as head coach. Friend feels that the Air Force Academy women's soccer program has and will continue to produce officers who are prepared to serve in the United States Air Force.
"Participating in a competitive team environment provides our young women with the tools and life lessons necessary to lead others in the Air Force," Friend said. "Many past graduates have gone on to lead as pilots, doctors, lawyers, in aircraft maintenance, as general aides and numerous other exciting careers in the Air Force."
The team has competed in the Mountain West Conference since 1999. The conference is nationally competitive and normally ranked in the top 10 out of all NCAA Division I conferences. The Falcons have struggled to meet this competitive challenge, but Friend is looking towards changing that.
"The Academy is a tough environment that can be taken advantage of only by individuals seeking a real challenge rewarded by incredible opportunities," Friend said. "Our players are ready and excited to expand their challenge to the soccer field."
Friend calls Columbia, Md., his hometown. His father, Joseph F. Friend, moved the family to Columbia in 1969 and retired from the Navy in 1971. Friend graduated from Wilde Lake High School in 1980, where he was team captain of the soccer team and a member of the 1976 state championship team. Friend went on to the Air Force Academy and played for coach Luis Sagastume as a four-year starter and team captain on the men's team. His teams compiled a 46-24-7 record, during which time he earned all-league honors four times and was selected to the all-midwest region team his junior year. Friend is ranked third in the men's program for career assists and 20th for most points overall. He was selected by his teammates as Best Offensive and Most Inspirational player in two different seasons.
Friend continued his soccer career after graduating from the Academy in 1985 to include playing overseas for the Japanese team Sukazan while on active duty. He also competed for four years on the all-Air Force soccer team in the late 80s. He captained the team twice during his playing career and led them to a pair of inter-service championships. Friend was selected to the United States All-Armed Forces Team all four years. He was selected team captain of the U.S. Armed Forces team and led them to a 1990 North American Championship in Victoria, Canada. This victory qualified the U.S. for the 1991 Military World Football Championship in Holland. Friend ended his playing career after the Military World Championships in 1991 and moved on to the coaching ranks. He received his United States Soccer Federation "A" license in 1994 and his Federation Goalkeeper license in 2007. Friend has worked with the state and region Olympic Development Programs since 1992. He has coached numerous competitive and developmental soccer teams in Colorado and Maryland. He has also been an assistant coach with the Air Force Academy men's soccer program for two seasons under coach Sagastume.
Friend retired from the Air Force in 2005 after 20 years of service. He flew over 2,000 hours as an instructor pilot on search and rescue and VIP helicopters. Friend completed helicopter pilot training at Fort Rucker Army Post, Ala., in 1986 where he was selected as "top stick" in both the contact and final phase of training. In 1987, Friend began a two-year tour at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, as a combat search and rescue pilot with the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron. He was credited with two Joint Chiefs of Staff contingency (JCS) missions in the Philippines and one life saved in Japan.
In 1989, Friend was assigned to the 41st Air Rescue Squadron at Patrick AFB, Fla., as an instructor pilot and NASA shuttle liaison officer. Friend flew numerous rescue support flights for space shuttle launches and supplied navigation stations in the Bahamas. He was lauded for his efforts by the Secretary of Defense on a highly sensitive JCS mission and credited with assist for a life saved off the coast of Florida.
In 1992, Friend had his first stint coaching soccer and instructing at the Air Force Academy. Friend was honored with the Outstanding Military Educator of the Year award in 1995. This is the highest award the Academy bestows on its instructors.
In 1997, Friend was assigned to the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Andrews AFB, Md., to fly Bell UH-1 Hueys. His unit supported classified emergency action programs for the national capital region. He also flew VIPs such as the President of Egypt and the Vice President of the United States. He returned to the Academy in 2001. Friend earned a Master's Degree in Sport Administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1994. His professional military education includes Squadron Officer School in 1989 and Air Command and Staff College in 1999.
Friend and his wife, Maribeth, have been married 22 years and have three children, Corey, Carina, and Felicia.