The San Diego State men’s soccer team is currently 4-4-1 overall on the season. The Aztecs will look to get their first conference win of the year at 7 p.m. on Friday at the SDSU Sports Deck when the Washington Huskies come to town. Staff Writer Adriana Bush caught up with junior goalkeeper Blake Hylen to talk about life on and off the field.
Daily Aztec: How is this year’s soccer team different from past years?
Blake Hylen: I think every year, we have had a strong drive to be the best we can, but I think this year, as a group, we are so mature with our team and our roster that everyone is more driven than I’ve ever seen. A majority of our team are juniors and sophomores who have been through this program for a while, so I think everyone is on the same page and ready to do what we have to do to win.
DA: Last year, you had four shutouts and 71 saves. What are your personal goals for this season?
BH: I don’t really have any personal goals. My goal is to help this team be the best it can and obviously win a national championship and a Pac-12 Championship. That’s our goal every year and that’s the goal
we are striving for now: to win and win everything. So that’s obviously a big personal goal of mine and a big goal for this team.
DA: Is your previous hip injury affecting your season so far? BH: I don’t know if it’s affecting it. I don’t really think about it. I justtrytodowhatIcanandgo play. This injury has been going on for about four years now, so I’ve kind of learned to deal with it and just recently, I figured out what was wrong with it. It feels good, better than it ever has and I just have to keep going forward and not think about it.
DA: How did you react when you found out you were named all-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2011?
BH: I was excited of course, but I think it doesn’t really mean anything until you accomplish what you want. It’s nice to be recognized, but that’s certainly not my goal. My goal is to help this team succeed, whether I’m mentioned or not.
DA: Have you ever played a position other than goalkeeper?
BH: I started out as a center back, so I was a defender. One game, when I was younger, we were getting beat so badly that our goalie didn’t wanttogoin,soIsaidIwouldgo in and I played really well. I played
on and off for the next year or so and then did goalkeeping full-time and it just took off from there.
DA: Did you always want to play soccer for SDSU or was there another college that interested you?
BH: I knew when I was a freshman in high school that I wanted to play college soccer, but it wasn’t until I came to the campus, met the team and met the coaches that I was driven to play at San Diego State. It was my number one choice. There was just something about it that clicked with me and I didn’t want to go anywhere else.
DA: What fuels your passion for soccer?
BH: I love it. When you love something, you don’t really know why you do it. You just know that it makes you happy, especially going through that injury for the past four years. You’re in and out of the rehab room, but when you are out there (on the field), you realize how much you love it.
DA: Is it your choice to wear a helmet when you play?
BH: I’ve been kicked in the head so many times and had a lot of concussions that the athletic department strongly recommended it and my coach makes me wear it. I don’t choose to wear it. I’m used to it now after playing all last year with it.
I kind of like it now. It lets me know when its time to go.
DA: What is your favorite Major League Soccer team? BH: I don’t really have one. I enjoy watching the (Los Angeles) Galaxy just because it’s a local team. I watch soccer in general, but probably my biggest pride for soccer would be the USA National Team. That’s probably my favorite team to follow.
DA: What is your favorite restaurant in San Diego?
BH: I love Mexican food. I love everything actually. I’m really not a picky eater. I guess Olive Garden is my favorite restaurant. We go to Olive Garden a lot on this team.
DA: What do you like to do with your free time?
BH: When it’s not catching up on my homework, I really just hang out with my friends. We always figure out something to do, like Frisbee golf or anything to just kill time, like going to the beach.
DA: How long have you been playing soccer?
BH: Before I could remember. I don’t remember, but my parents said I started since I was three and I’ve loved soccer ever since.
DA: Do you have any pregame rituals?
BH: I just try to get in early, warm up my body and just start focusing on the game.