Oct. 20, 2003
by Brian Betz
The Santa Clara
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Nearing the end of the regular season, the men's soccer team has compiled a 9-2-3 record, having allowed just nine goals as the ninth-ranked team in the nation. A big contributor to the Broncos' stingy defense has been senior co-captain Matt Upton. Sports Editor Brian Betz managed to catch up with the speedy defender for a few minutes to let Matt share his wisdom as a veteran on the team, his thoughts on Matt the captain, and even his playing history with teammate and fellow senior, Kellen Gilmore.
BB: You're listed as a forward. But you've played mostly defense, right?
MU: I play right back, but I got recruited I guess as a forward. My freshman year I played defensive mid, then my sophomore year I played forward and then junior year I played both of those and some defense.
BB: Where does this team stack up in comparison to the others in your four years here?
MU: My freshman year we were really good. Last year we just didn't know how to win games. We had a lot of talent but we were just so young that we couldn't do much with it. And this year we pretty much have the same nucleus of players.
BB: What responsibilities have you taken on as a captain this year?
MU: More leadership.
BB: What's that entailed?
MU: Always staying positive. Not try to get down on anyone or myself. And basically during games and during practices, keeping people motivated and on the same page. And obviously I've done that more now than I did in the past.
BB: Yeah, I can imagine. Who on the team is the toughest to defend.
MU: Probably Kelechi.
BB: Why's that?
MU: Just cause' he's huge and weighs like 200 pounds.
BB: Has your approach to the game changed in your four years?
MU: Freshman year I didn't feel I was as big a part of the team as I do now. My approach to the games has changed. As opposed to freshman and sophomore year, I realize now that every game is crucial. I mean, we've lost two games this year, and they've been to just about the two worst teams we've played (UM-Kansas City and San Jose State).
BB: Would you say the defense has been your strength this year?
MU: Uh, it started off our strength and now I think our offense has gotten themselves going. So hopefully by the end of the year both the offense and the defense will be clicking at the same time.
MU: Well, it's made my job easier. My freshman and sophomore year I played around Jeff Stewart, so I've always been around some of the top defenders.
BB: What's a realistic goal this year? Keep in mind, realistic.
MU: I think we can win it all this year. Win a national championship.
BB: So there's no lofty goal then obviously. I heard you played club ball against Kellen Gilmore before coming to Santa Clara. What was that like?
MU: He played on the right side and I played on the left side so we were always matched up on each other. Got a friendly rivalry going, which was good. Actually, our senior years we were on the California State ODP team together, and that was a lot of fun. And then, after that, we came on the same recruiting trip up to here. And then we became roommates freshman year.
BB: What's been the most memorable moment of your four years here?
MU: Beating LMU, my sophomore year because we won the WCC. And it was just a battle, we scored in the last 10 minutes and we won 1-0 at their field. And then I had all my family there too.
BB: Do you want to pursue soccer as a career?
MU: Yeah, I do. Still not sure, at this point, how much of a reality it could be. I would love to do it, but only time will tell.
BB: What needs to happen if that's going to become a reality?
MU: It depends a lot on our team. As much on our team as individually because the farther you make it as a team the more people look at the players on our team.
BB: You have a day off. No school, no soccer. What are you doing?
MU: I would sleep till at least noon. Watch sports, watch ESPN. Go to Baja Fresh, go to Jamba Juice. And maybe watch a movie.
BB: Any superstitions?
MU: I like to try and keep things the same on game day. I don't consider myself superstitious, but I always eat spaghetti with sausage and I wear the same underwear. And the same undersocks.
BB: Who is the worst on the team at taking a dive to draw a foul?
MU: Probably Jason Cunliffe. I have no good stories but I would think that if there were anyone in the box trying to draw a foul it would be him.