Aug. 13, 2010
Bigger and better things are anticipated for Air Force women's soccer in 2010. Under second-year head coach Larry Friend, the Falcons enter a new year focused and determined to push the program to new heights.
Featuring one of the youngest rosters in the nation last year, with 23 underclassmen, including 12 freshmen, the young Falcons went 2-15-1 in 2009. The Falcons were in nearly every contest last year however, falling by a goal in seven contests, including four in conference play.
Air Force returns 15 letterwinners, including two-time All-Mountain West honoree junior midfielder Bridgett Murphy and returns its leading scorer in sophomore Stephanie Patterson.
The Falcons also return eight starters, including seven players with at least 15 career starts. Air Force also welcomes seven freshmen to the pitch.
Friend and his coaching staff sat down with Nick Arseniak of athletic communications and talked about the team and the upcoming 2010 season.
How are things looking for the team as you gear up for the 2010 season?
Can you tell us a little about the team captains and the junior class?
We are optimistic about the fall 2010 season. We were very pleased with our spring 2010 season; the players made a much deeper commitment and worked extremely hard. We increased our effort and practice and in competition, while trimming our roster down to the right type of players with the right attitude that will help our program improve. We will be entering the season without any seniors and one of the younger teams in the country, yet the players in this group bring a lot of game experience to the team. We are going with a smaller roster where each player has a greater stake in the outcome of the program. The team has defined themselves as committed, relentless and united. They have been extremely supportive of each other, honest with each other and the staff, and accountable for their performance.
Our team captain is Krystin Shanklin
. She has been starting at defensive center midfield since her freshmen year. Assistant captain Cassie Wilson
was 2009's defensive and team MVP. Assistant captain Meagan Eissele
won the spring 2010 Lightning Bolt award for attitude and effort in the weight room. These three captains are highly respected by their classmates. In fact, the entire junior class is very strong on and off the field. Most of these players have been starting since they were freshmen. Kelly Bieber
and Bridgett Murphy
bring excitement to the field and will be great mentors for our incoming freshmen.
How is the sophomore class coming along?
We are very impressed by the amount of enthusiasm that our sophomore class brings to the program. Their freshman year was a `trial by fire' experience, but they showed tremendous maturity in the process. They have grown a lot in a year and are excited to welcome in this year's freshmen to the program.
And how is the freshmen class shaping up?
The freshman class has done remarkably well during Basic Cadet Training. Morale is high, and they have not lost sight of their vision for attending the Air Force Academy. This is the smallest group of recruits we have ever brought into the program. They are excited to contribute to the program this fall.
hat do you see as your team strengths and what will be some challenges towards a successful season?
The strengths of our program are a positive attitude, a high level of fitness, and a never-say-die approach to the season. Our challenges will be integrating the freshmen class into the team mindset and type of style that our program is trying to accomplish this fall.
What style of play do you envision for the team this year?
Our cadets are some of the smartest young women in the country. We are excited and challenged by the Academy environment. We look forward to using this intelligence to gain a tactical advantage. Offensively we want our players to read the situations and take what the game gives them. Our approach to defense is organization and effort. We hope to maintain good shape through all aspects of the game.
What are your thoughts on the schedule?
We're excited to play several other military schools this year--The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute. These programs provide us with a competitive rivalry that turns into a friendship after graduation. We look forward to having our team at its peak in October for the Mountain West Conference season. The MWC is ranked very high in the NCAA and we have a great amount of respect for the players and coaches of these programs.