News | March 17, 2022

Air Force dominates 2022 Armed Forces Men's Soccer Championship

By Mr. Steven Dinote, U.S. Armed Forces Sports Secretariat U.S. Armed Forces Sports

Air Force goes undefeated and finishes with a dominating 4-0 victory over Navy to win the 2022 Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship Saturday in Tampa, Florida.  

Allowing only one goal in round-robin play, Air Force returned to the top of the podium for the first time since 2018.  

Air Force 1st. Lt. James Souder of Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. knocked in the first of his two goals in the eight minute of play.  With a 1-0 lead by halftime, Air Force opened up the second half with goals by Airman Erick Mata of March Air Reserve Base, Calif. and Maj. Christopher Brown of Hill Air Force Base, Utah to accompany Souder’s second half goal.  

The Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship was last held in 2019, with Army winning the tournament.  Due to global COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament has been in hiatus.  

“Since 2019, Air Force and Armed Forces Soccer has been on hold, with many players separating or retiring since,” said head coach Lt. Col. Jeremiah Kirschman of Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

“Last year was the year of recruitment, looking for the top Airmen and Guardian soccer players.  We brought in the right staff and players with the right attitude and skills to make the team better.”

During this year’s round-robin play, Navy rolled past Marine Corps (3-1) and Army (5-1) in their first two matches.  Navy’s only defeat came from Air Force in both round-robin play and the championship match.  Navy earned silver, their first medal since 2018.  

In the Consolation Match, Army defeated Marine Corps 1-0 to place third overall.  Army’s previous win was against the Marines during the round robin.  

While their record was 0-4, the Marine Corps produced one of their most competitive squads in years despite having a shortened training camp without trials due to budgetary constraints.  

Marines proved to be Air Force’s biggest challenge of the tournament, causing their match in round-robin to go to penalty kicks.  Air Force prevailed, scoring 3-1 in the shootout.  

“This was possibly the dominant All-Air Force Team in program history,” said Kirschman.  “I owe it all to Air Force Sports for supporting my vision and to my coaching staff for their innovative ideas and to the players for trusting in me and our program.”

After the championship match, 11 players were named to the All-Tournament Team.  

Forwards:
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Konan (Navy), Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev.

Midfielders:
Staff Sgt. Alfredo Villasenor (Air Force), Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. 
Maj. Dylan Montambo (Marine Corps), MAGTFTC Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Cpl. Carlos Vazquez-Perez (Marine Corps), Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Sgt. Francisco Delgado (Army), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
Seaman Kersan Marcellin (Navy), Naval Base San Diego, Calif.
Seaman Brandon Buendia (Navy), Naval Base San Diego, Calif.

Defense:
Cpl. Chad Melton (Army), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Maj. Christopher Brown (Air Force), Hill Air Force Base, Utah
Tyler Detorie (Space Force), Peterson Space Force Base, Colo.

Goal Keeper:
Senior Airman Gavin Bryant (Air Force), Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Visit armedforcessports.defense.gov for complete results and links to photos, as well as other sports offered.