The players on Air Force women's soccer team know they have an opportunity to turn heads this weekend.
If so, chances are they will do it behind the efforts of three Colorado Springs players.
The Falcons (1-3-1) host the Texas Longhorns (3-2-1) at 6 p.m. Friday at Cadet Soccer Stadium. They know that a win could do for an inexperienced team of 25, including 12 freshmen.
"Winning would make a huge statement," said senior forward Megan Dozier, a Liberty High School alumnus who was second on the Falcons in points (eight, two goals) last season. "They will be a good test to see how we stack up nationally."
The rookies injected more enthusiasm into the squad after a 2012 season when Air Force went 5-9-3 and was 0-7 in the then-eight-team Mountain West Conference.
"Adding them is definitely building toward a better program and changing the culture," Dozier said. "We go into games expecting to win now. They have reminded us how much fun soccer is, which is good for the upperclassmen."
They also contribute on the score sheet, led by Pine Creek graduate Ashley Greco, who assisted all three Air Force goals this season. Those three are the most for a Falcon freshman in three years.
Junior defender and Air Academy graduate Kylie Williamson, last season's co-defensive Most Valuable Player, is a three-year starter and has one goal for the Falcons, who rallied to tie Montana 1-1 in the season-opener and beat Grand Canyon 1-0 last week.
A strong showing against Texas and Ball State (4-1) at noon Sunday will be an important step toward the team's goal, finishing in the top eight out of 11 Mountain West squads in order to qualify for the tournament Nov. 4-9.
"We definitely have the talent to make the conference tournament," Williamson said. "It is very attainable."
The squad is led by senior captains Leah Bratt and Loren Catchpole and senior goalkeeper Kelly Stambaugh, the academy's all-time leader in goals-against average (1.07).
After concluding the nonconference schedule with a home game against Drexel Sept.?22, the Falcons open league play against Colorado State, which was picked to finish 11th, just behind Air Force. A win in Fort Collins would give the team a confidence boost.
If the team makes the league playoffs, Greco is looking forward to the possibilities in her next three years at the service academy. The program has yet to qualify for the NCAA Tournament despite some success at the conference tournament (4-8 all-time).
"It would definitely be a step forward toward the future," the midfielder/forward said.