Through its first five games of 2005, the UCSD Men’s Soccer team has rolled up a record of 4-1 and allowed a measly two goals against. One of the vital cogs in the Triton defense is senior Kevin Murray, a second team All-CCAA selection last year when he started all 15 games for Coach Derek Armstrong. “Kevin came in as a forward and was converted to a defender,” says Armstrong. “His greatest value is reliability. He gives us great consistency and steadiness in the back. He’s also got that doggedness you like in a player and has turned into a bit of a leader for us.” The 5-8 Mission Viejo (Aliso Niguel H.S.) recently sat down and talked about Triton soccer and what’s ahead in 2005.
Q-What’s been responsible for the team’s excellent start this season?
MURRAY—I think the fact that we have as many seniors as we do plays a big part. You can’t discount that kind of experience.
In the past off-season, everyone put in a lot of work—more than in the past—and that’s made a difference. For a lot of us, this could be the last chance we’ll have to play soccer at this high a level.
Q-What was the team’s feeling after suffering its first loss in the CCAA opener last week at Cal State L.A.?
MURRAY—We were definitely very disappointed in our performance and knew we could have done better. We know we have to work harder and really battle the rest of the season.
There’s still a long way to go, though. One loss isn’t going to get us down.
Q-Looking at the team’s early season play overall, how would you gauge it’s chances in the CCAA?
MURRAY—I think our chances to do well are pretty good. We’ve got a good team. The question is whether or not we keep our heads. We need to keep our organization, stay focused and maintain the work ethic we’ve shown so far.
Every team is the league is tough so it should be a close race. Last year was very disappointing and is one of the reasons so many people put in so much work in the off-season. There is a real hunger to get back to the post-season again.
Q-Last year’s team narrowly missed the conference championship and NCAA Playoffs. What is the strength of this year’s club and is it capable of being better than last year’s?
MURRAY—The strength of this year’s team is defense. We didn’t give up our first goal until overtime of the fourth game.
It’s not just our defenders but really overall team defense, including our forwards. You won’t find many good soccer teams that don’t have a strong defense.
I think this year’s team is better than last year’s. We have the experience of last season to build on, know what are shortcomings were and where we need to improve. Sometimes we didn’t get properly motivated for easy games and let a couple get away. That’s something we want to avoid this fall.
Q-How important is chemistry on the soccer field?
MURRAY—It’s extremely important. Soccer is a “team” sport. Our team organization and having everyone on the same page in terms of offensive and defensive systems is crucial.
I think it’s also beneficial that all the players on the team are also friends. We hang out all the time, even in the off-season, we surf together and a number of us are in Sigma Chi Fraternity together. A lot of that transfers over to the field and makes us more cohesive.
Q-Who are the leaders on the field?
MURRAY—All the seniors are leaders. We’ve been together for four years and Nick Marquand is a fifth-year senior so we’ve got a lot to draw from.
Dustin Tannenhaus (junior) is also a pretty motivational-type of guy who can rally the team when it’s needed.
Q-Speaking of the four seniors you came in with, how would you briefly describe each?
MURRAY—Matt Davey is a determined worker who’s very technically sound. Robert Stetina is laid back, kind of goes with the flow but is athletically gifted. Jon Krupansky is very quick and really provides the element of surprise—you never know what he’s going to do but you always know you’ll get his best. And Grant Nishio is very passionate about everything he does. He’s one of our best ball strikers.
Q-What about Kevin Murray? How would you describe yourself?
MURRAY—I’m a hard worker. I try to make sure I always execute and make as few mistakes as possible.
Q-What have you learned from Derek Armstrong?
MURRAY—Tactically, I feel I have a great understanding of the game, thanks in large part to Derek. He spends a lot of time teaching us tactics and positioning.
He’s very passionate about what he’s doing with us. He pays a lot of attention to details and has a great knowledge of the game.
Q-What do you enjoy most about soccer?
MURRAY—The competition, the challenges. I’ve been doing it since I was six and now it’s just a part of me. Soccer is my escape from the rest of the world.
Q-What brought you to UCSD?
MURRAY—The education. The school’s ranked nationally and worldwide. I’ve found it very challenging but at the same time very rewarding.
I’m going to graduate in June with a degree in psychology. I hope to work somewhere after that and go to business school and get an MBA at some point down the road. I don’t really have any set plans. For awhile, I’m just going to see what the world brings my way.
PREVIOUS Q&A ARTICLES
Carl Lostrom (Men's Cross Country) - September 13, 2005
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