Men’s Soccer Loses Coach, Stops Skid

    The UCSD men’s soccer team lost head coach Derek Armstrong earlier last week when he retired suddenly in the middle of his 26th season with the program. He leaves after taking the helm in 1982, when he began to turn the consistently mediocre team into a strong contender, both in Division III and Division II competition.

    During his tenure, Armstrong coached over 500 games, leading the Tritons to 15 NCAA Division III tournaments as well as five appearances in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament at the Division II level. Perhaps Armstrong’s greatest accomplishments came in 1988, 1991 and 1993 when the Tritons were crowned NCAA National Champions.

    Armstrong said his health was the main reason he retired this season and that the team’s early season struggles had nothing to do with his decision.

    “The only reason is my knees,” Armstrong said. “My knees needed immediate surgery and I had a pre-op [Sept. 27] and the right knee will have surgery [Sept. 29].”

    Armstrong’s sudden retirement was a shock to players and coaching staff.

    “It was a surprise,” interim head coach Paul Holohan said.

    The day following Armstrong’s sudden retirement, the Tritons still rallied around Holohan to pull off a major upset over No. 6 Seattle Pacific, 1-0. Newcomer junior forward Jason Le, who has made a clear impact since returning from an injury, scored the winning goal in the early minutes of the first half. It was his fourth goal in his past three matches.

    Holohan acknowledged the big boost Le has given the team ever since his return but emphasized that the whole team has been playing better.

    “There’s no doubt he’s a big player for us,” he said. “But we are going to work harder and rally around each other.”

    Sophomore goalkeeper Joshua Vasquez filled in for regular starter junior Peter Akman and posted three saves to get the Tritons’ second shutout of the year. Akman did not play because he received a red card during against Cal State Los Angeles on Sept. 23.

    Holohan praised the team’s effort in his first game and win as interim head coach.

    “Being my first game after [Armstrong] left, we just tried to get very organized,” Holohan said. “The boys played a hell of a game.”

    Going into the game, senior captain Josh Levy said the players decided to start fresh with this game and scoring the first goal helped.

    “We started our season over,” Levy said. “If we win this game, who knows what’s going to happen this season? The coach gave us a little speech and we went out there and won. It’s a totally different game when you score first. You just have to play at the same level and we were able to hold them off.”

    Following its major upset over Seattle Pacific, the team went on to face No. 13 Seattle University on Friday, but fell 0-2. After their 1-1 road trip to the Northwest, the Tritons overall record dropped to 2-7-1. The Tritons’ scoring woes continued, as they managed to score only one goal in two games. Although the Tritons outshot Seattle Pacific 5-3, Seattle University overwhelmed UCSD by notching 21 shots to UCSD’s seven.

    Holohan was not too worried about the lack of shots during the games.

    “I thought we did very well,” he said. “We had the lion’s share of goals against Seattle Pacific and I don’t feel as if we were outshot as badly as the stats say.”

    Levy agreed, adding that the lack of experience has played a major role in the lack of offense.

    “We have been playing well this season,” he said. “It’s just not scoring. We have a lot of opportunities and never really converted. But on Wednesday we did and finally scored first. It’s probably lack of experience with 14 new guys and nine freshmen, and lots of them are starting and getting a lot of playing time. We just started recently doing goal drills in practice and it’s showing in the games.”

    If the last three games were any indication, the Tritons seem to have gotten their act together and are looking forward to making a run back into conference contention.

    “The last three games, the errors have been less,” Holohan said. “The Cal State Los Angeles game, we should have gotten some thing out of it; at least a tie in double overtime. The rest of our games are conference matches and because we have been close in lots of games hopefully we can turn some games in our favor if we ca

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