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Photo by: UC San Diego Athletics
Seniors Kiefer Cooksey (left) and Nathaniel Bloom during Monday's second session.
Tritons Rounding Out First Week of Training Camp
Release: Saturday 08/18/2018 
by UCSD

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego men's soccer program is almost one week into its preseason training camp. UC San Diego reported back to campus last weekend, and took the field for the first time on Monday morning, Aug. 13.

The Tritons had two-a-days on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with single morning sessions on Wednesday and Friday. Some final cuts were made after Friday's training, ahead of the first of three preseason scrimmages on Saturday night, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. at home against Santiago Canyon College of Orange. Parking and admission are free at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla. The team will have a much-needed off day on Sunday.

UC San Diego opens both the season and a program-record 10-match homestand on Thursday, Aug. 30, in primetime against Biola. Kickoff for the first of six non-conference tilts is set for 7 p.m. at Triton Soccer Stadium. The Tritons then follow that up with another pair of 7 p.m. matchups on Saturday, Sept. 1, and Thursday, Sept. 6, against two more Pacific West Conference foes in Azusa Pacific and Concordia Irvine, respectively. Entry is again free for all regular-season home games, with parking free only on the weekends.

The Tritons lost just twice last year, finishing 10-2-5 overall and 7-1-3 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play, but missed out on both the CCAA Tournament semifinals that they were hosting, and subsequently an NCAA Championship berth. They were coming off a three-trophy, national semifinal run in 2016.

We caught up with head coach Jon Pascale, entering his 11th season in charge, and fifth-year senior right back Jeff Powers. Watch the video to hear more from each.

HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
On how things have gone thus far in training camp...
"Taking a good look at the group and trying to rate where they are, we're pretty pleased. I think they've all put in a lot of work over the summer, and it has showed in the load they've been able to handle so far. We've thrown a lot at them both physically and tactically, and we're pretty happy with the progress they've made up to this point."

On what's left to do over the remainder of camp...
"We have a lot to accomplish. You ask any team, you're still building on things throughout the entire season. Our main focus so far up to this point has been our team shape and team defending. We're just in the process now of transitioning that into the attack, and hoping to make some big strides in these next few training sessions and scrimmages, in breaking down and getting forward and creating chances."

On some of the position battles and decisions to make...
"We have a really talented group of forwards. We have five guys who have predominantly been playing up there, and those guys are really battling for some time. There are some interesting decisions that are going to be made at center back. At both those positions, we're pretty happy with our options. We have a good core of midfielders, and not much separates those guys. We've always prided ourselves on having a deep team. The challenge of that sometimes is trying to figure out what fits where."

On starting out with a 10-match homestand...
"We're really happy with our schedule. Obviously to play that many games at home, we're fortunate to do so. We feel like we have the best facility, or one of the best facilities, in the country. We enjoy playing here. We play well here, and I think teams enjoy coming here to play us. It's good for them as well. We're really excited to get going here at home and get in front of our fans and in front of the school, and show them what we can do."

On what he wants the takeaway to be for his men over the remainder of training camp...
"The biggest thing for the guys to take away over the next couple of weeks is how much goes into forming a strong team. It goes far beyond the fitness, far beyond the soccer, far beyond the tactics, but the mentality that the guys take into each training session. How important that is as a group, and how important it is to respect each other as teammates and as people, and create this positive, competitive culture that ultimately will define our success. We're firm believers in that the culture of your team is what will develop your team. If you can get the guys to understand that they are the ones responsible for creating that culture, and if it's positive and competitive, I think the team is going to develop at a pretty rapid rate and go on and be able to do so some great things."

REDSHIRT SENIOR RIGHT BACK JEFF POWERS
On how things have gone thus far in training camp...
"It's been good. It's definitely a grind, but it's a good type of work. We're all feeling a little sore, but we're coming together as a team pretty quickly, which is promising to see."

On what he is most looking forward to in his final season...
"I'm most looking forward to enjoying it. I'm just excited, to play with new guys, to see it all again, to travel one more time, to play on the field one more time."

On the next couple of weeks of training camp...
"With the rest of the preseason, I hope we can just come together quickly and start becoming one giant unit. Working together well and then when we start getting into games, I hope we can start getting results quickly."

On whether he can believe how fast it's gone by, now in his fifth and final preseason...
"No, not at all. Every time we have a preseason and I meet the new freshmen, I'm like wow, it's crazy, I feel like I was just in your position a couple weeks ago. Every time I come out here, it's a little wilder thinking it's almost over."

On opening with 10 straight home games...
"It's really fun playing here, always. We always have a good crowd. The atmosphere is great. Having 10 home games to start is huge for us, especially considering that we're going to host the CCAA Tournament. It will help with results in getting there, and I hope that it will continue through the tournament, and hopefully we can make it to the NCAA tournament as well."

On words of advice to incoming Tritons...
"My advice to anyone new coming in is just to be yourself. You got recruited here for a reason. Our coaches, Jon, Hern, Gareth and Tim, see something in you. It's something you had before coming here, so you don't need to change whatever you had. It's also becoming part of the team, so adapting, adjusting and taking what you were good at, and then seeing how you can fit that into the team atmosphere."

#BigWestBound

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