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For video of men's soccer portion of press conference, click Read More and scroll to the bottom.
By Liz Alper
Quotes and video courtesy goaztecs.com
August 29, 2017 (San Diego) - There's just four more days left until the San Diego State Aztecs football team takes the field again and men's soccer is back in town for their home opener. Men's soccer head coach Lev Kirshner and two seniors, forward Jeroen Meefout and midfielder Thom Van Den Berg, football head coach Rocky Long, senior safety Trey Lomax and junior quarterback Christian Chapman discussed all that and more at this week's press conference.
“We’re excited to be back here and getting the season going," Kirshner said. "We have a very similar team returning: a lot of experience, great leadership, a very driven group, a lot of buy-in to what our program stands on and the weekend proved it. We had an emotional, difficult loss in overtime in the last 45 seconds of the first overtime (at Army West Point) and to turn around on a hot Sunday afternoon...to come back with a performance that got us a victory in overtime (against Vermont), again, was a testament to the character of what we have inside our program.
"This is a team of great character. It’s a driven team, it’s a motivated team, it’s one that is mentally resilient and very tough and obviously that result on Sunday illustrates what they are."
Asked on the difference between this year's team and last year's team: "“Last year was probably the most successful year I’ve had in my career so it’s very hard to say that this group can eclipse it. I will say that everything that made us last year is in this team. The talent is very similar, if not a little bit better, just because the depth is a little bit different. The leadership is absolutely there....What we do want to make sure of is that we’re doing everything in our process to extend our season from last year. If we can accomplish that, I think we surpass what we did.”
Meefout talked about the team's work ethic this summer. "We worked super hard during the summer. We worked on our fitness and thinking about how those moments can be in our near future, it really helped. Thinking about the fans and scoring the (game-winning) goal on the Sports Deck, that gets you through the summer.”
Van Den Berg echoed him. "Last year was phenomenal: the games we played, the wins we had, our overtime wins, our big games, it was fantastic...We are all taking these moments with us and are looking at how we can build from here.”
The Aztecs hit the pitch at SDSU Sports Deck for their home opener on Monday, Sept. 4 against UC Santa Barbara. First touch is at 7:00 p.m.
Then it was on to football. Coach Long took the mic. The big focus this week was the attention surrounding SDSU football now that the Chargers have moved to Los Angeles. Long knew the expectations from San Diego residents are high. "That's what we want. We want them to have expectations," he said. But... "...it is not pro football. It is not like we have the same guys we had last year or the year before. Teams, their personalities, and in this case their maturity change dramatically from year to year in college football. We like the idea that people expect us to be good. We like the idea that we think we can be good and we like the idea that we can win enough games to have a chance at the conference championship and get into another bowl game. But, the idea that if we don’t win certain games that it’s a failure, it’s people that don’t understand college football.”
“I think the expectation here is set," Chapman echoed his coach. "We win ball games so even though the team is young we’re expected to win. We go out there and take a win one play at a time and the team knows what we have to do to get it done.”
However, Long noticed no difference with the Chargers being gone. "I do not necessarily think our team feels any more than they normally do. I do not see more people at our practice. I did not see more people at our scrimmage. I know we have sold a few more season tickets than we have in the past. I would say it’s very similar to the way it was last year.”
"It is going to be exciting," Lomax said about Saturday's season opener.
"...it is good to finally get out there and play some ball this weekend," Chapman said. "We have been waiting all year for it and we are just ready to get going again.”
There's a lot of new freshmen on the Aztecs this season. Is Lomax nervous about his young secondary? "I am not really nervous...they are talented so I have confidence in them.”
Chapman commented on the freshmen as well. “I am just excited. I know we are young, but I am excited to see what we are all about and what we bring to the table. I think the first game always shows you something about yourself so I am excited to see what we can do.”
The Aztecs take the field at Qualcomm for the first game of the season against UC Davis. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.