Off to a 3-1-1 start after a 1-0 overtime upset of No. 15 Cal State Dominguez Hills at home Tuesday night, the UC San Diego Men’s Soccer team again figures to be right in the middle of the battle for the CCAA South Division championship and an NCAA Division II Playoff berth. One of the stalwarts for the 2006 Tritons is defensive-minded senior midfielder Chase Douglas out of Chaparral High School in Temecula. Veteran UCSD Head Coach calls Douglas, “my tackling machine,” and says, “he plays the spoiler role for us, disrupting the opposition’s offense. He’s one of our most consistent players—a 90-minute man who gives you the same effort every time out.” Twice an honorable mention All-CCAA choice, Douglas talked recently about his team and what’s ahead this fall.
Q-How would you evaluate the men’s soccer team’s start this season?
DOUGLAS—We are off to a fairly good start at 3-1-1, especially considering the fact that we lost so many seniors last year. We had a tough loss to Seattle, but came back with important wins over CSU San Bernardino and CSU Dominguez Hills to stay undefeated in CCAA.
We have had a few early problems which is to be expected with so many new faces on the team. We’re still getting our structure right which includes complete unity between the defenders, midfielders, and forwards, but in our most recent win over CSU Dominguez Hills we played extremely well as a team from the defense all the way up to our forwards. We have a very positive outlook on this season and are expecting a good run in the CCAA and even further if we maintain a hard work ethic and stay together as a cohesive unit.
Q-What are your primary responsibilities as a midfielder?
DOUGLAS—As a midfielder, I have many responsibilities from defense as well as creating a balanced attack. My major personal responsibility is helping out the defense and not allowing the midfielders from the other team to attack our defense.
In addition to shutting down the opponent’s midfield, I have to maintain possession for our team. I need to be able to distribute the ball from one side of the field to the other and create offense out of defense. There is a lot of running involved and it requires hard work by everybody on the team to play good defense and create goals.
Q-What was it like playing alongside All-American Matt Davey for three years?
DOUGLAS—I was lucky to get the chance to play next to a player with such amazing talent as Matt Davey. He had such tremendous control of all his actions on the field as well as being a smart man both on and off the field. He makes everything on the field easier for the other players around him as he attracts so much attention from other teams, freeing up the other midfielders. He was an exceptional player for UCSD and his talents were very much appreciated by the team.
Q-The regional implications of the loss to Seattle last week certainly didn’t help in terms of post-season play. Did that result create any sense of urgency within the team?
DOUGLAS—No, it was a tough loss to handle, however, due to Seattle’s loss to numerous CCAA teams already this season, we still have great potential for making a good run into the post season. All that matters now is doing well in league and concentrating on each individual game—never looking past any opponent.
Q-What would you consider the strength of this year’s squad? What is an area that you think is still something of a question mark or needs improvement?
DOUGLAS—This year’s squad has many strengths, but one of the greatest is our work ethic. Even though we may not be playing the best soccer throughout the game, everybody on the team is working for all the other players on the field. This is important as in rough times we can count on our hard work to keep our defense strong, which is the foundation of our team. We also have a great core of returning defenders and experienced midfielders.
One area that could use a little improvement is our attack. In the previous years we have had one of the best defenses in the nation but it has been hard to score goals. Therefore, this year we are trying to maintain a strong defense but work on our transition to offense so that we can keep possession of the ball and wear down the opponent’s defense until we are able to put a goal in.
Q-Are there any new players that have made a particularly good impression?
DOUGLAS—Mark Moreira, Tony Choi, and Tom Winkler have all made important contributions already this year. Mark and Tony have been a large part of our offense while Tom Winkler has had the task of stepping into Matt Davey’s role at center midfield and has been doing a great job holding the ball and distributing it all over the field.
Q-How would you handicap the 2006 CCAA Men’s Soccer race?
DOUGLAS—As usual, CSU Dominguez Hills is the obvious team that is expected to be right around the top of the conference as well as be in the NCAA tournament mix. However, there are many teams that have started out their seasons really well, particularly in the North where Sonoma State, Cal State Stanislaus, and Chico State all look like legitimate contenders. The CCAA is probably the best Division II soccer conference in the nation and just making the conference tournament is going to be a challenge.
Q-What’s the toughest place to play in the CCAA? Why?
DOUGLAS—I like to think that UCSD is the toughest place to play at in the CCAA due to our tremendous track record at home. However, there are several other really tough places to play at such as Sonoma State because of their raucous crowd and the high quality team that they put on the field every year. CSU Dominguez Hills is also really tough to play at because of the rivalry that has developed between our teams, and they always get a good crowd out to the game.
Q-Is there a particular team in the league that you really want to play well against? Why?
CSU Dominguez Hills is always a team that we want to play well against in league as they are our rivals and have been a mainstay in the NCAA tournament the past few years. A win against a quality team like that always helps with the NCAA selection committee when it is picking teams for the NCAA tournament.
Q-What advice would you have for new players in regard to Coach Derek Armstrong’s coaching style? Are there any particular things that particularly upset him?
DOUGLAS—Coach Derek Armstrong is a good, and very experienced coach, who knows what he is talking about. Every once in a while he will get on your butt during a game, and as a player you need to take his criticism and move on with the game. It can sting a little but if you go on playing the way Derek has prepared you for the game with the slight changes he makes throughout the game and you will be fine.
Also, every player has to stay positive whether on the bench or on the field as Derek is all about the team and does not like any bad-mouthing of other players as it can tear apart a good team.
Q-Did you follow the 2006 World Cup? What were your thoughts about that event and its outcome?
DOUGLAS—Of course I followed the World Cup, every soccer fan looks forward to the coming of World Cup every four years as it is quality soccer being televised constantly for about a month. The love of each person’s country is shown as each player on the field is representing the country they love.
It is also fun to watch the lesser developed countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast do well as they do not have as many resources to put into sports as countries like England and the USA.
The outcome was a little bit surprising for everyone in the world, I think. Nobody ever expected great teams like Brazil and England to be eliminated so early in the tournament. Italy went on a tremendous run and played extremely well. On the other side, it was great to see a great player like Zidane lead the French squad to the finals in his last games ever, but was disappointing for a lot of fans to see Zidane go out the way he did getting the red card.
Q-Are you involved in other facets of campus outside of soccer?
DOUGLAS—With soccer and classes, time is usually tight, but I am very active in the Structural Engineering lab and the library. Other than that I hang out with a bunch of friends and that’s about it.
Q-Besides the soccer field, what are some of your favorite spots on campus?
DOUGLAS—We are lucky to have a great gym and sports facilities at UCSD. I spend a lot of time in RIMAC. Outside of athletic spots, Price Center is always fun as there is good food and it is always fun to hang out with people between classes.
Q-How about some personal interests---what kind of car do you drive? What is your favorite movie? What non-sports figure to you admire?
DOUGLAS—I drive a black Saturn...very classy. My favorite movie is American History X which, although violent, is important for people in the U.S. to see the racism that has happened and the problems that still occur in the US despite what people want to believe.
I really admire my parents because of everything they have gone through to raise me, as well as my brother and sister, to be what we’ve become today.
Q-Talk about your major, why you selected it and what you hope to do with it.
DOUGLAS—I am a Structural Engineering major. I selected it because it is interesting to me how buildings are constructed. There are so many randomly shaped and really impressive looking structures throughout the world. Many structures have even become national landmarks like the Statue of Liberty is for the United States. I intend to get a job as a structural engineer and hopefully build something of some significance at some point in my life.