UC San Diego men’s soccer coach Derek Armstrong has built the Triton soccer program into a perennial national power in 25 seasons as head coach. After taking the Triton program to the highest level within the NCAA Division III, Armstrong led the program into Division II and the California Collegiate Athletic Association in 2000. The program will play a historical game early on in the 2007 season as Armstrong will coach his 500th game as the UCSD men's soccer head coach during the fifth game of the season.
Through the program's first 25 years under Armstrong's direction, the Tritons have amassed a winning percentage of .694, posting a 321-129-45 record during that time. UCSD has also received 15 invitations to the NCAA Division III tournament and advanced to the semifinals five times, playing in four championship games. Armstrong’s 1993, 1991 and 1988 squads won national titles. The 1988 team had UC San Diego’s best year, finishing the season with a 23-0-2 record.
At the Division II level, Armstrong’s teams have qualified for the CCAA tournament on five separate occasions, including the 2003 campaign in which the Tritons advanced to the championship match against Chico State. Despite the loss to the Wildcats in the CCAA Championship, Armstrong’s team played well enough during the year to warrant an invitation to the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament, their first since moving to D-II.
Before Armstrong came to UCSD in 1982, the Tritons had only one winning season in the program’s seven-year history. UCSD had not had a losing season since Armstrong took over until an injury-plagued 2001 campaign, and has posted a 303-114-52 record during his tenure; giving him a .706 winning percentage. He collected his 300th win at the collegiate level with a 1-0 victory at home over Chico State on October 15, 2004.
Armstrong’s 2000 team surprised many people by finishing 11-5-2 overall, 9-3-2 in conference play and winning the CCAA South Division in its first year as a member. UCSD earned the right to compete in the CCAA Championship Tournament in Carson, where it lost to Sonoma State in the semifinals. The 2001 edition got off to a 1-7 start before battling back to win five of its last eight and post a record of 6-9-1.
In 2002, UCSD went 11-6 overall and 9-5 in league play, claiming its second South Division title in its three years of CCAA membership before losing to now-four-time defending conference champion Cal State Dominguez Hills, 1-0, in a CCAA Semifinal in Petaluma.
The 2003 squad finished with an 11-7-1 overall record and an impressive 8-5-1 mark in the CCAA. The Tritons were ousted by Chico State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in ‘03.
The 2004 season started off well as the Tritons went unbeaten in its first eight games, including a tie against eventual National Champion, Seattle University at home on September 17. The Tritons played well enough to amass a 9-3-4 overall record and a 8-4-2 league mark to finish second in the CCAA South Division. The Tritons eventually lost to Cal State Bakersfield in the CCAA semifinals on penalty kicks.
Inconsistency plagued the 2005 campaign as UCSD once again fell in the first round of the CCAA tournament and failed to receive a bid to the NCAA postseason despite some impressive credentials. The Tritons started off hot, winning its first three contests, including a 2-0 victory at No. 2 Seattle University on September 4. UCSD only managed eight more victories over the next 15 matches before its 3-1 loss to Sonoma State on November 4 in Turlock, Calif., ended the Tritons’ season.
Despite the unfortunate ending to the season, Armstrong did place eight student-athletes on the All-CCAA teams and three more on the NSCAA All-Far West Region squads. Senior Matt Davey earned his third-straight NSCAA/adidas All-America accolade and would later receive Academic All-America and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship honors.
In 2006, things looked very promising for the Tritons after a torrid 6-1-1 start that included three double overtime victories. Things then cooled off dramatically for Armstrong’s team, managing only a 1-9-1 record the rest of the way and finishing with a sub .500 record for the first time since the 2001 season. Freshman Tony Choi was one of the notable bright spots on the year, finishing as a Second Team All-CCAA selection and the league’s Freshman of the Year.
Armstrong, who originally hails from Carlisle, England, is well-known in local and national soccer circles. In the early 1980’s, Armstrong helped found the La Jolla Nomads, an internationally-recognized youth soccer club which he coached and led to the Western Soccer League title in 1987 and 1989. He continues to serve as their director of coaching.
In 1987, Armstrong was selected as the national coach for the Under-20 United States FIFA World Cup Team, which competed in Chile. He is currently a member of the United States National Coaching Staff.