A Good Foundation Is In Place Upon Which To Build As RYan Hopkins Begins His Third SEason At The Helm Of The Program. The Aztecs Were Impressive During The First Half Of The 2021 Season Roaring out To A 6-0-2 Record That Included Pac-12 Wins Over CaliFornia And Stanford. However, They Came Up Short As The SEason Progressed Finishing With An 8-7-2 Overall REcord And 2-7-0 Mark In Conference Play.
Laukoa Santos – Midfielder – Played in 58 contests with 39 starts during four-year tenure. Had two career goals and three career assists. Signed a contract with Charlotte FC of the MLS.
Teven Roux – Forward – Played in 69 contests with 44 starts during five seasons. Had six career goals and eight career assists.
Andre Ochoa – Midfielder – Transferred to UCLA – Two-year starter who appeared in 27 contests with 26 starts. Had seven goals and two assists during two seasons. 2020 All-Pac-12 Second Team member. Ochoa was SDSU’s top goal scorer in 2021 with five.
Austin Weher – Forward – Transferred to Sacramento State. Appeared in 43 games with 5 starts during three-seasons. Had three career goals and 1 career assist.
Alex Hjaelmof – Forward – Played in 17 games with 10 starts in 2021. Scored one goal and contributed four assists during 2021 season.
Tadej Pirtovsek – Defender – Played in and started 16 games in 2021. Contributed one goal.
Opportunity For Improvement
The ability to find a way to prevail in the difficult Pac-12 contests that have eluded the Aztecs in the past. This includes the ability to consistently put in a full ninety minutes of play as the season progresses.
Coach’s Recruiting Class Comment
Ryan Hopkins stated, “Overall, we feel this group addressed a lot of positional needs as well as bringing some very unique qualities as well.” He added, “We know they will bring a competitive spirit and push our returners to make everybody better.”
The Aztecs must improve their effectiveness on the offensive side of the ball in order to increase their win total in 2022. Specifically they must be able to come up with the big play needed to win the close contests. Four of their Pac-12 losses last year were 1-0 games. SDSU began Pac-12 competition with a 2-0 win over California and a 1-0 win in overtime over Stanford but managed a total of only one goal in their next seven contests in Pac-12 play. Redshirt freshman forward Rommee Jaridly, senior midfielder Blake Bowen (3g, 0a), an All-Pac 12 honorable mention selection who had three game-winners in 2021, and redshirt sophomore Donovan Roux (1g 1a) look to be among returning players who could add punch to the attack.
Junior Inigo Villaldea, a 2021 All-Pac 12 First Team selection and two-year starter, is an outstanding box-to-box midfielder who will add stability and play making ability in the center of the park. Senior Henry Smith-Hastie who was a starter last year, redshirt sophomore Jordon Korbus (1g, 0a) and redshirt freshman Beto Apolinar are among other returning midfielders who look to be in the mix. Joe Daluz, an experienced transfer from Georgetown, is among the newcomers who should immediately strengthen the midfield.
Forwards Austin Brummett out of the New York Red Bulls II, Isaie Louis out of the New England Revolution Academy, and CJ Fodrey who played for San Diego Loyal are among the members of a highly regarded recruiting class with the potential to be difference makers on the offensive side of the ball for the Aztecs.
Solid team defense was San Diego State’s calling card last year as reflected in the fact that they posted seven shutouts and only allowed a total of 17 goals against a very competitive slate of opponents. San Diego State’s play on the defensive side of the ball kept them in contention in almost every game they played last year.
A solid nucleus returns on defense led by in goal by junior Jacob Castro who was the first Aztec goalkeeper to be named to the All-Pac-12 First Team since Tally Hall back in 2006. The backline will be experienced with seniors Kyle Colonna and Arturo Chavez and junior Kyle Colonna slated to return. Sophomore So Nishikawa and junior Esteban Zepeda are among other returning backs who will be in the hunt for a greater role in 2022. Newcomers Dylan Presto and Tristan Viviani are among the defenders in the 2022 recruiting class who should challenge for minutes.
Moving upward in the highly competitive Pac-12 is not easy but it is possible. You need look no further than Oregon State who secured their first Pac-12 title in 2021 for proof of that.
However, SDSU has a gap to close in order to secure the signature wins they need to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament and move upward in the highly competitive Pac-12 Conference. The Aztecs improved significantly between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The potential exists for continued improvement in 2022 but in order for that to happen three things must occur. The returning players must build on the experience gained and the lessons learned last year, the newcomers must help fill the voids that exist, and the returning players and newcomers must mesh together into a unified team.
Successful efforts to build a winning culture and mentality almost always begin on the defensive side of the ball. The Aztecs made great strides in that regard last year. In order for SDSU to turn the corner in 2022 they have to find a way to come up with the big play needed on the offensive side of the ball to win the close contests that have eluded them in the past while continuing to play rock solid on the defensive side of the ball.
The groundwork is in place for continued improvement at San Diego State. The Aztecs were what their record (8-7-2) and statistics (16 goals scored and 17 allowed) said they were last year – a team with a small margin for error.
There is reason for cautious optimism heading into the 2022 season but a lot of things have to fall in place. The Aztecs will not likely challenge for the Pac-12 title in 2022, but being a much more competitive team and upward movement is not out of the question.
Alex Boros – Midfielder – Houston, Texas – Played for the Houston Dynamo Academy where he was a team captain. Has trained with the Dynamo’s First Team.
Javier Camargo – Midfielder – Oceanside, California – Oceanside High School – Played for San Diego Loyal Select. Two-time All-Avocado First Team selection at Oceanside High School. Played for Oceanside Breakers in 2019.
Berin Droemer – Forward – Dallas, Texas – Played for Solar S.C. Scored 20 goals with Solar SC last year and scored 29 goals while playing for the FC Dallas Academy.
Reid Fisher – Midfielder – Huntington Beach, California – Huntington Beach High School – Played for Slammers FC. Two-time All-CIF selection at Huntington Beach High School.
CJ Fodrey – Forward – San Diego, California – Coronado High School – Played for San Diego Loyal – Also played with Albion Pros Club, San Diego Surf and San Diego Nomads and LA Galaxy Academy. Has played on the first team of the San Diego Loyal in the USL.
Dylan Presto – Defender – Los Angeles, California – Played for LAFC Academy. Played for the Las Vegas Lights of the USL. Scored 20 goals in 23 games in the 2018-2019 DA season.
Tristan Viviani – Defender – Redwood City, California – Played for San Jose Earthquakes Academy. Has played with the U.S. U-17 and U-20 National Teams. Currently plays for the San Jose Earthquakes U-23 team.
Isaie Louis – Forward – Everett, Massachusetts – Played for New England Revolution Academy. Played for New England Revolution Academy in USL.
Austin Brummett – Forward – Bow, New Hampshire – Played for New York Red Bulls II. Has U.S. Youth National Team experience. Played for Tacoma Defiance. Played for Seattle Sounders FC and Seacoast United.
Joe DaLuz – Midfielder – San Diego, California – St. Augustine High School – Transfer from Georgetown where he played in 43 contests with 14 starts and had two career goals and 3 career assists. Played for Surf Soccer Club.
Picture from San Diego State University Athletics