Northern Colorado soccer falls to Air Force, 2-1, in exhibition match

The game didn’t count towards the record, which is probably a good thing, but the University of Northern Colorado soccer team got back on the field Saturday afternoon.

UNC hosted Air Force at Jackson Stadium for an exhibition match to start the fall 2022 season, falling to the visitors, 2-1.

“Four days in, it’s just a real good experience for us to look at a lot of players, especially our young players,” UNC head coach Tim Barrera said. “Overall, it was a good learning experience for us. We’ll get a lot out of it.”

The Bears didn’t have their best start, giving up a goal in the 21st minute, but they knotted things up in the 32nd after freshman forward Riley Kaali-Nagy found the net. Sophomore forward Lauren Fuller and sophomore midfielder Ashley Hillman were tabbed with the assist.

Coming out of the locker room after halftime, the Falcons were aggressive and didn’t waste any time scoring the tie breaker. Caeli Sherman, who scored the Academy’s first goal, scored the second just 27 seconds into the second half.

From there, it was a duel of the defenses and neither team was able to record another goal.

The Bears offense didn’t have a bad day – it recorded nine shots with three on goal – but Air Force was better. The in-state rival finished with 14 shots and nine on target, helping it secure that second score.

Additionally, UNC took three corner kicks to Air Force’s five. The Falcons were more aggressive, as seen by their eight fouls, while the home team had one.

UNC has 17 upperclassmen, but it’s still relatively young. It has 23 underclassmen, including 12 freshmen and a few sophomores who played limited minutes last year.

Barrera said the young players put in a lot of effort and “did some good things,” despite having some nerves. He also noted the leadership from his seniors and general on-field efforts from the transfers.

“We just want to get better in all phases.” Barrera said. “I thought, defensively, we were good for the most part but gave up two goals on defensive mistakes. I think once we get further into the season, that won’t happen – hopefully not.”

The Bears will play at Colorado State next week in its second exhibition. First kick is set for 1 pm Friday in Fort Collins. The first regular season game is set for 7 pm Aug. 18 against Wyoming.

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