By John Philip Wyllie
Taking a break from the rigors of the San Diego Sockers preseason training camp, WISL 2001 Rookie of the Year, David Beltran dropped in on his alma mater, San Diego State recently to watch the Aztecs battle the St. Mary College Gaels. With him was another former Aztec, Enrique Tovar. Tovar hopes to replicate Beltran’s successful 2001 transition from a collegiate athlete to an up and coming professional. Beltran credits his experience at SDSU as being instrumental to his success as a pro.
“Playing at San Diego State was a reality check when it came to staying in shape,” Beltran admitted. “Playing club ball (for Pegasus) you didn’t do a lot of physical fitness work. You just went out and played. During my first season (of collegiate soccer) by the second half (of some of the games) my legs were worn out.”
Beltran had always been a forward (prior to arriving at SDSU). Thrust into the more physically demanding role of a halfback, Beltran was pushed to the limit and forced to become more fit. He also developed defensive skills that he never previously owned in all his years as a forward. His training at SDSU came in handy last year when he auditioned for the Sockers, a team he had enjoyed watching as a kid. Beltran’s solid play on defense was one reason the Sockers made it all the way to the league finals. But that was last year.
A returning veteran on the new 2002 Sockers team, Beltran will be asked to play a more active role. With the Sockers now playing in an expanded eight-team league, more will be expected from the Ramona native. One thing however, won’t change.
“They will be expecting more of the same out of us, to try to finish in first place and then win the championship,” Beltran said. Having come so close last year, Beltran and his teammates are filled with a hunger that will only be satisfied by a Major Indoor Soccer League championship.
Rule changes in the new league include the opportunity to score three-point goals when players can find the range from more than 45 feet. Beltran believes the new rule works to his advantage.
“Most of my goals came from the outside last year, so I think the new scoring system will help me,” Beltran said. “Defenders will get more involved in the attack now. We will do a lot of shooting from the outside, so they will be expecting more from us in that sense. The key is, you have to know when to do it. My main job will remain on defense and to keep it balanced back there.”
With the outstanding Sockers goaltender Dezso Horvath returning for the 2002 campaign and team captain and mentor Alejandro Cardenas directing the defense, it should once again be very difficult to score on the Sockers.
“Alejandro is like a teacher out there,” said Beltran “Sometimes he gets on your case, but he also tells you what you are doing wrong so you don’t continue to make the same mistakes. He’s a good leader and we don’t get angry at him (for being critical). We have a lot of respect for him.” It’s the same type of respect that Beltran will receive from Tovar and the other rookies trying to follow in his footsteps.
The Sockers open their 2002 season at the Sports Arena on Sept 28 against the Milwaukee Wave.