Seniors embrace moment of stepping onto field for one last time


Luis Lopez

Senior midfielder Adam Vargas attempts to get past a UCLA defender in the Aztecs’ 1-0 loss to the Bruins on Nov. 16 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

by Daniel Guerrero, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego State men’s soccer bid farewell to 11 senior players during its 1-0 loss against UCLA on Nov. 16 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

The 11 seniors include: goalkeeper Max Watkin, midfielder Spencer Madden, defender Mac Clarke, defender Dane Rozas, midfielder Emil Kjellker, midfielder Pablo Pelaez, midfielder Adam Vargas, defender Miles Stray, midfielder Hampus Bergdahl, midfielder Chris Scatterday and midfielder AJ Valenzuela.

The Aztecs (4-12-2, Pac-12 1-9-0) gave their senior players a rare opportunity on senior night as the starting lineup was made up of all 11 seniors – something that has happened just once in 2013 during head coach Lev Kirshner’s 20 years at SDSU.

Kirshner said the opportunity for the group of seniors to share one more moment on the field was memorable.

“There’s a lot of history between us, so when you have that many guys with that many years of relationship it is absolutely special,” he said.

SDSU was tied in the contest 0-0 against UCLA but surrendered a goal to Bruins sophomore midfielder Cody Sundquist in the 88th minute.

Despite the 1-0 loss, Kirhsner said he was proud of how the seniors played in their last game together.

“I can’t be happier for how they performed and I would have loved to have gotten a (better) result for them, but their performance was fantastic,” he said. “This night is about the seniors and that 11 that came out for their minutes and had the (Bruins) on their heels, it was a special time for them.”

Senior goalkeeper Max Watkin said the outcome of the game wasn’t the biggest takeaway from the night but rather the effort from the seniors in their last game.

“This game was just about the seniors and putting on a performance to make us all proud,” Watkin said. “We did that no matter what the score says. That was how we won the game, with a love for one another.”

Watkin has been with the Aztecs as a freshman after coming to SDSU in 2015. During his time as an Aztec, Watkin has had to deal with obstacles with included an injury sustained at the start of the 2018 season.

Watkin said his biggest takeaway from his career as an Aztec will be the lessons learned from the challenges he faced.

“Five years is a long time,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot of adversity during my time here, but if that’s taught me anything, it’s to keep going forward, putting your head down and grinding.”

Watkin finished his career with a total of 21 appearances and played in over 1,700 minutes for the Aztecs.

Watkin said the moments he made on the field were to make those around him proud are some of the things he appreciated over his career at SDSU.

“It meant the world to me,” Watkin said. “To play with all these guys and to play in front of my family, that’s all you can ask for regardless of the scoreline. To make your teammates your friends and your family proud, that’s what life’s about.”

Senior midfielder Adam Vargas joined the Aztecs as a transfer in 2018 after spending two seasons at Southwestern College and one at Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2017.

Vargas said the experience playing the last game at SDSU with a lineup made up of only senior was indescribable.

“You can’t really explain it with words,” he said. “It’s just a feeling. Everybody’s in the same moment together and it’s just great.”

Vargas played at started in 18 regular season games during the 2019 season for the Aztecs.

He said the significance of the last match with all the seniors was something he will look back on as his career playing for SDSU.

“Right now, I kind of just live in the moment,’’ Vargas said. “I feel like a couple years from now I’m going to be able to look back on this (night).”

Daniel Guerrero is a senior studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @TheDanGuerrero.