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Former NCAA champion competes with All-Armed Forces team

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, poses for a portrait photo at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel competes with the U.S. Armed Forces Women’s soccer team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, practices a rainbow kick at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel was a member of the 2012 NCAA Division III women's soccer champions, Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Penn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, controls the soccer ball with her cleat at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel trains daily, focusing on cardio and soccer skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, practices her goal scoring accuracy at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel competes with the U.S. Armed Forces Women’s soccer team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, practices her dribbling skills at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel was a member of the 2012 NCAA Division III women's soccer champions, Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Penn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, practices play calling while controlling the ball at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel trains daily, focusing on cardio and soccer skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

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U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, practices her dribbling at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 20. Bridel was a member of the 2012 NCAA Division III women's soccer champions, Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Penn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 11th Annual Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Women’s Football Championship was held June 22-July 3, 2018 in Fort Bliss, Texas. The tournament featured teams from Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Netherlands, South Korea and the U.S.

CISM Sports is the culmination of each nation’s military services’ sports and fitness programs. Service members compete against other elite athletes for a chance to advance to the global stage and participate in international competition. When the military’s elite soccer players from around the globe took the pitch at Fort Bliss, a member of Team Kirtland was among them.

Kirtland 2nd Lt. Alicia Bridel, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, an operational research analyst, is no stranger to elite competition. Bridel was a member of the 2012 NCAA Division III women's soccer champions, Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Penn.

“I never thought I would have the opportunity [to continue playing soccer], I thought once college ended, I would hang it up and just play pick up here and there,” said Bridel. “One of my officemates showed me the tryout voucher for the Armed Forces women's team and I applied. It was such a privilege to be accepted to try out, and get excited at possibly continuing something I love.”

Bridel said she had the full support of her commander and of her division before she tried out for the team. She then traveled to Fort Bliss in early June for tryouts and was selected for the Armed Force's team in her high school and college position of attacking midfielder. The select team went on to challenge and train with different teams around the El Paso area in preparation for the CISM tournament, finishing 7-0. Not only did they compete and train but also volunteered by mentoring local school teams and visiting the El Paso Veteran's home.

“My favorite memories were from off the field ... they are some of my best friends in the Air Force and we got along really well and grew together through the experience,” said Bridel. “We got excited for each other when one of us did well and picked each other up if someone was discouraged, we formed a very close knit bond.”

Bridel and the U.S. team entered the CISM tournament and did better in competition than they have in previous years. They finished 2-2, beating the Netherlands 3-0 and Canada 1-0, but fell to 2nd place finishers South Korea 0-1 and 3rd place finishers China 0-3. The team later played a friendly with Germany to a 4-4 draw.

“I'm grateful for the opportunity to have competed for our country,” said Bridel. “The coaching staff was great and I can't give them enough credit; and I can’t give my unit enough credit for letting me go. I am grateful for the support I received and the team received. Thank you to everyone who supported the team in this process and we would love to have more girls out and continue to build the program and make it as competitive as possible.”

Despite not medaling at the CISM, Bridel is training daily in preparation for the Defender's Cup tournament, scheduled to take place this fall, and the 2019 World Games in China.