Out for the first six games of the 2007 season with a shoulder injury, it didn’t take long for junior transfer Jason Le to make an impact on the UCSD Men’s Soccer team, once he got back onto the field. The 5-10 forward scored four goals in his first three games, one of which was a 1-0 road upset of then sixth-ranked Seattle Pacific. “We knew Jason would be a big contributor for us and that’s why we worked so hard recruiting him back here,” said Interim Head Coach Paul Holohan about the former St. Augustine High School star. “Getting him back has definitely added to our team. He’s very creative, soccer-wise and when he’s fit, he and Tommy Caplan will make a good combination up front.” With eight games remaining in CCAA play, the 21-year-old psychology major took time to share some thoughts on his career to date.
Q—What led you to transfer from Vanderbilt to UC San Diego?
LE—The Vanderbilt Men’s Soccer team was dropped. I was still eager to play soccer and I had to keep my education in mind. I wanted to attend a school that had a good academic standard, where I could also play soccer. What better place to go then home, sunny San Diego.
Q—What differences have you noticed between the two programs? The two schools?
LE—The soccer program at Vanderbilt was Division I and we played against the best teams in the Midwest and South regions of the country. In Division I soccer, the players are very talented and often go on to play professionally. Division II is just as intense and demanding. Vanderbilt is a small private school, close to downtown Nashville, while UCSD sits right next to the beach in La Jolla.
Q—You missed the early part of the season with a shoulder injury. Was it difficult to sit on the sidelines?
LE—Yes, I was very disappointed because our team had a very good pre-season and I was definitely ready to play with my new teammates. I was most frustrated in the fact that I could run and play, but my shoulder was still recovering from the dislocation. Thanks to our training staff, I only missed a couple of games instead of half the season.
Q—When you got back in the lineup, you scored four goals in your first three games. Do you consider yourself a natural goal scorer? What attributes do you need to consistently “finish” in soccer?
LE—No, I do not consider myself a goal scorer; however, I was just able to be in the right spot at the right time. All the goals I have scored have been produced from my teammates working a little “magic” and me being in the right spot to finish it off.
Q—What are the possibilities for the 2007 team?
LE—First of all, we are a very talented team that has gotten unlucky and our record does not correctly represent our play. With time and more experience, our team will learn from its mistakes and continually get better. We are definitely learning a lot and growing as a team. Our goal now is to win each game one at a time and try to make the playoffs.
Q—This year’s team is very young. Which player on the roster do you think has the most “upside” down the line?
LE—Brandon Yee has the most potential and natural skill as a defender. He has made an immediate impact and will be one of the cornerstones for our defense in years to come. I am excited to know that our young backline will develop into special players.
Q—The big news last week was the unexpected retirement of Head Coach Derek Armstrong. Was it a surprise to you and the rest of the team?
LE—Yes, it definitely surprised everyone. During the meeting my teammates and I were speechless and sad that Derek’s coaching career ended so suddenly. I wish him well with his recovery from knee surgery.
Q—What will you remember about Derek as a coach?
LE—I have known Coach Derek Armstrong for years, ever since U-11 with the Nomads Soccer Club and I will never forget everything he has done for me. There are many moments that describe Derek, but I will never forget about the in and outs of being a soccer student. The time he has taken to pass on advice, improve my game and others will not be forgotten.
Q—Have you noticed anything different with Paul Holohan moving from assistant coach to the top spot?
LE—Paul has done a very good job keeping the team focused on our season and preparing us for the next opponent. He has taken the reins without any troubles and we are excited to have him as our head coach. He adds a special knack for being a great motivator and continues to drive our team to perfection.
Q—As a San Diego native, how did you like Nashville (Vanderbilt)? Did you become a country music fan?
LE—Nashville was a very beautiful place. I learned to love it during my two years there. I am not a fan of country, but our warm-up tapes did contain some country songs which was interesting.
Q—What are some of your off-field interests?
LE—During my free time away from the field I enjoy reading for fun and going to watch movies. I always love going to the beach to just lay out and relax. Rock climbing is another one of my passions that has to be put on hold because of my shoulder. Hopefully soon I will be able to start it up again.
Q—If you could play any other sport at the collegiate level, what would it be?
LE—Tennis. It seems really fun and I like a sport that combines skill and endurance. It would be a change to play for yourself instead of with a team. I am not very good on the court, but on the Nintendo WII I can hold my own.