Robert Pate, a sophomore defender on the CSUN men’s soccer team, was awarded Big West Men’s Soccer Player of the Week and was named to the SoccerAmerica Team for the week ending October 1.
The honors were awarded to Pate after he anchored the Matadors’ defense in CSUN’s first-ever win over UCLA. The Matadors held the Bruins to only four shots in the game, two of those on goal. CSUN’s defense prevented the Bruins from scoring, resulting in a 3-0 victory.
“He played outstanding defense,” said head coach Terry Davila. “We limited them in opportunities and Robert was a big part of that. He did his job extremely well and we couldn’t have asked for anything more from him in that game.”
Pate said that when he was told he got Big West Player of the Week, he “just got a big smile on my face.”
“It was kind of unexpected, but it really made me excited,” Pate said. “I hadn’t had any recognition like that in college yet, so it was really cool to get recognized, especially by our league which is doing really well this season.”
The Matadors were missing three of the defensive starters for the UCLA game: junior Chad Borak, and seniors Matt Tracy and Sean Franklin. Freshman midfielder Jeremy Hohn and junior transfer Bo Miller manned the back line with Pate.
Davila said that Pate showed “phenomenal leadership” in the game.
“That game suited him extremely well and he just exploded in that game,” Davila said.
Pate gives credit to his teammates on the backline.
“I couldn’t have gotten it (the awards) without the guys playing to the left and the right of me,” Pate said. “And Gupp. All of us were just clicking and they couldn’t get any opportunity or any momentum offensively. We were just shutting them down.”
Pate was a three-sport letterman at Chatsworth High School where he played soccer, volleyball and football. He was awarded Most Valuable Player and earned All-City honors in volleyball.
“My mom played volleyball all her life and I grew up watching her,” Pate said. His mom was actually his assistant coach in high school and Pate credits her with helping him develop his skills. “It was mom’s basic fundamental teaching that helped me out and made me strong in volleyball,” he said.
Pate ultimately chose soccer over volleyball, however.
“It’s everyone’s game,” Pate said, adding that the physical contact is something that makes the game more exciting and something he missed when he played volleyball. He enjoys slide tackling during games, he said.
Pate scored his first collegiate goal on Nov. 11, 2005 during the last game of the season against UC Davis. Even though he doesn’t score much, Pate says he enjoys scoring.
“I’m pretty tall and when we have a set piece, that’s the main opportunity I have in getting a goal,” Pate said. “I should be able to score a lot of those, but I haven’t been able to put any away so far.”
He played for the San Fernando Valley Quakes last season with some of his teammates.
“It was fun. It was a good experience,” said Pate. He said he didn’t have the same kind of bond he has with this team, though.
“I think we have extreme potential,” Pate said of his team. “Its just a matter of playing to our potential.” Pate said the team gets plenty of offensive opportunities and just needs to put the ball in the net. “We’ve proven to be an explosive offensive team.”
Pate said that he would ultimately like to play professional soccer and these honors have helped to give him some exposure. After redshirting in 2006, Pate has started in each of the 8 games he has played this season. He has two assists so far this year, which ties him for second on the team with freshman midfielder Rafael Garcia and senior midfielder Fergie Agwu. He has taken two shots this season with one of those on goal.
“He’s a guy you can build a program around,” Davila said. “He’s a solid citizen, a solid person. He’s a good boy and he’s for the team, very much for the team.”
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