When Erik Soderberg lined up a potential game-tying field goal late in Air Force’s game at Utah last Saturday, the sophomore felt differently than he had on previous attempts in his short tenure as the Falcons’ kicker.

“For the first time I had that feeling like, ‘All right, I’m just going to go out here and make it and then go do the kickoff,’” he said. “Instead of worrying about my steps and stuff, in my head I was just like, ‘All right, let’s go make this.’”

Make it he did, drilling a 48-yarder to tie the game and send it, eventually, to overtime.

Soderberg credited the experience he has gained for his calm confidence. He hadn’t attempted a field goal before this season and entered the preseason listed third on the depth chart at kicker. But he won the job and the difficult task of replacing Ryan Harrison.

Through eight games, he’s made 17-of-22 attempts, giving him a better percentage (77.3) than Harrison had in his first year as a starter (70.4 in 2007).

One of Soderberg’s misses, of course, was in overtime of the 16-13 loss to Navy.

Soderberg said he’s tried to forget about the miss with the help of teammates — “Everyone was just real supportive, making sure I wasn’t beating myself up or anything,” he said. But he hasn’t forgotten the experience “of being in that kind of situation — pressure, game on the line.”

“You learn from it and just stay more focused,” he said. “Make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

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