While much of the usual focus on Air Force athletics is placed on football and its consistently successful hockey program, this year the Falcons’ mens soccer team has skyrocketed to the top of the NCAA soccer rankings. The Falcons are currently ranked number 8 in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division 1 Men’s poll and for good reason.
Air Force opened its season with a close loss against the currently 21st ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. The score was knotted at one goal a piece until the Hokies scored early in the second half and the Falcons were unable score the equalizer, despite three shots on goal in the second half.
Following the loss, the Falcons continued their east coast road trip to take on James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In the most exciting fashion possible, the Falcons scored the game winning goal in double overtime, to take down the Dukes 1-0.
From there, the Falcons have been absolutely unstoppable. They defeated six more out of conference opponents, including Navy, number 13 ranked Colgate, and number 22 ranked University of San Francisco.
On September 22nd, they opened up Western Athletic Conference play against University of Missouri Kansas City and won a statement victory, 4-1.
At this point, we can point to a few reasons for the Falcons’ dominant season. The senior leadership has been undeniable. Senior Austin Dewing leads the way in goal scoring with six goals in nine games and Senior Tucker Bone has tallied five goals as well. Junior goalkeeper Andrea Seazzu has a .786 save percentage and the Falcons have outscored their opponents 24-6 so far this season.
Although this level of talent across the field hasn’t been seen in recent years, it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Tucker Bone and Austin Dewing both earned 2018 pre-season All-WAC honors and Bone is on the Mac Hermann watchlist after being named a semi-finalist for the award in 2017.
The coaching staff has also done an outstanding job of recruiting this talented team and as the Falcons’ record shows, they’ve done well in managing the program. Now coaching the Falcons for his twelfth season, Doug Hill, a 1983 Air Force Academy graduate himself, is beloved by his players and it’s certainly helping lead his team to success.
Tucker Bone said, “We’ve always been scoring lots of goals… Now that we’re seniors, there’s more of a management aspect, to make sure players are playing in their role and not doing more than they need to do.”
Bone went on to describe that he believes that the coaching staff has been pivotal in ensuring that the team directs its talents in a way that they are able to get in and get their wins against each of the opponents on their schedule.
The Falcons, by no means, have an easy path to the NCAA playoffs. With ten games left to play, five of which are conference games, they are just under halfway done with their regular season. With none of their remaining opponents are currently ranked, the Falcons need to continue their dominance to ensure a high seed in the NCAA tournament.
It’s still a little too early to crown the Falcons now, but the dominant success on the pitch and bright outlook for the rest of the season is indicative of the fact that there’s something special about this team.