Men’s soccer starts undefeated

    Men’s soccer is working to improve on the success of its 2003 season, in which the squad earned a 10-5 overall record heading into the postseason. A victory over Cal State Dominguez Hills in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Semifinal match landed the Tritons a berth in the conference Finals match against Chico State, which defeated UCSD in regular season play, 3-1 on Oct. 3.

    The Tritons were unable to mount an upset victory and fell to the Wildcats in a discouraging 5-1 game. Still, the hopes of UCSD players were not entirely vanquished; the Tritons were given a final opportunity to rebound from their loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament, where the squad was set to face off against Chico State in the single elimination tournament. The dire circumstances were overwhelming for UCSD, which held off the Wildcats for the first 83 minutes and 27 seconds, and even appeared to have the upper hand through the early minutes of the second half. But those final seven minutes were too much for the Triton team, and two goals were scored on UCSD before the 90-minute game clock expired.

    In his 22nd season as head coach for the Tritons men’s soccer program, Derek Armstrong has mounted numerous successes at both the Division III level and more recently in Division II competition. In 15 invitations to the Division III national tournament, Armstrong led UCSD to three national titles. Now, after only three trips to the CCAA tournament, the Tritons advanced to the final match for the first time since the 2000 jump to Division II, then were selected for the NCAA tournament. The team is accelerating through the ranks of the relatively new level of competition.

    The 2003 team saw six key seniors graduate, including senior co-captain and 2003 First Team All-CCAA pick Jonathan Shum, a toll that would have had perilous repercussions for the Tritons if not for the eight juniors who will be stepping up to fill the void.

    Armstrong’s 2004 team is more top-heavy than in previous years, as only two freshmen have joined the squad; however, the sophomore class is well represented with nine players to balance the level of experience on the turf.

    Early season performance indicates that the 2004 team could easily eclipse the achievements of last year’s team, as the squad has jumped out to a 3-0-1 record. The Tritons have eight more home games this season, including an Oct. 15 matchup against CCAA foe Chico State, in which UCSD will be out to avenge the losses of 2003. The men’s team will play on Sept. 22 at Triton Soccer Field versus Cal State Dominguez Hills at 7 p.m.

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