Men’s soccer poised for big 2019 campaign, open season against USD

Junior+midfeidler+Emil+Kjellker+celebrates+after+scoring+the+game-winning+goal+in+overtime+of+the+Aztecs%27+2-1+victory+over+UC+Irvine+on+Sept.+9%2C+2018+at+the+SDSU+Sports+Deck.+
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Men’s soccer poised for big 2019 campaign, open season against USD

Junior midfeidler Emil Kjellker celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the Aztecs' 2-1 victory over UC Irvine on Sept. 9, 2018 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

Junior midfeidler Emil Kjellker celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the Aztecs' 2-1 victory over UC Irvine on Sept. 9, 2018 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

Abraham Jewett

Junior midfeidler Emil Kjellker celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the Aztecs' 2-1 victory over UC Irvine on Sept. 9, 2018 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

Abraham Jewett

Abraham Jewett

Junior midfeidler Emil Kjellker celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the Aztecs' 2-1 victory over UC Irvine on Sept. 9, 2018 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

by Cristian Alvarez, Staff Writer

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San Diego State men’s soccer is weeks away from opening its 2019 campaign.

After finishing last season with an overall record of 7-10-1, the Aztecs aim to improve and push for a spot in the NCAA tournament later this year – a feat that hasn’t happened since 2016.

Lev Kirshner, who enters his 20th season as head coach, said he’s confident his side has what it takes to play amongst the best teams in the country.

“There’s very few seasons that we’re not capable of playing in the NCAA tournament,” Kirshner said.

The Aztecs added 10 new players in the offseason which ranked as the tenth-best recruiting class in the nation, according to Top Drawer Soccer.

Sophomore midfielder Tristian Weber is the latest player to join the Scarlet and Black, who transfers after playing one season at the University of Portland.

“Tristian is a wonderful young man who has a lot of talent,” Kirshner said. “We’re looking forward to getting him into the group and seeing how he acclimates to our way of playing.”

Players were eager to start training with the entire staff. However, NCAA rules prevented players from getting in contact with coaches until Aug. 13.

Instead, many of them spent the summer participating in summer leagues.

San Diego native and redshirt senior midfielder Pablo Pelaez stayed active this offseason training with local National Premier Soccer League side Albion SC.

Pelaez said his teammates followed similar regimes until a month prior to the opening kickoff in which most players reported back and participated in ‘captain’s practices.’

“We’re so excited to get going,” Pelaez said. “We’re only looking forward to get with coach Lev and get more intense.”

As team captain for the Aztecs, Pelaez said he is certain they can accomplish great things.

“There’s so much talent on this roster compared to the other years,” Pelaez said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Redshirt sophomore midfielder Laukoa Santos sacrificed part of his offseason away from his hometown in Hawaii to improve his game and contribute to the team.

“We knew that this year was going to be a big year for us,” Santos said. “It’s going to be special.”

The Aztecs are set to make waves in the Pac-12 Conference, and Santos hopes their results will rally the San Diego community.

“I truly want to see a culture change,” Santos said. “I want people on campus to be excited about watching SDSU men’s soccer. I want the nation to know that SDSU is a contender.”

Kirshner’s side plays UC Irvine on Aug. 19 and UC San Diego on Aug. 24 in exhibition matches prior to having their new campaign go underway.

The Aztecs’ season officially starts on Aug. 30 in their “light the night” home opener against USD at the SDSU Sports Deck at 7 p.m.

The local derby marks the seven-year anniversary of when the SDSU Sports Deck was given field lights back in 2012.

“It’s our goal to ‘stack the deck’ as we say and break the attendance record,” Kishner said. “The ultimate ambition would be to sell it out.”

The fixture will feature a bounce house, photo booth and performances from the SDSU cheer, dance and drumline teams. 

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