Just past the midway point of its 2017-18 season, the La Costa Canyon boys’ soccer team possesses a solid 10-2-3 overall record, has opened Avocado West League play at 2-0 and is ranked No. 6 among San Diego prep teams in the Union-Tribune’s most recent poll.
Among the cornerstones for Coach Craig Dean’s Mavericks has been senior center midfielder Collin Wagstaff, one of the squad’s co-captains. The lanky six-footer has the speed, footwork, endurance and intelligence to proficiently handle all the requisite midfield responsibilities. But it’s the intangibles that mean the most to Dean.
“Collin works extremely hard and is a natural leader,” said the veteran LCC head man. “If I’m not there, he’s one person I know will make sure everything is running smoothly.”
With the league season getting into full swing and CIF Playoffs looming in the not-to-distant future, Wagstaff talked with the Encinitas Advocate about the season to date, his coach and teammates and some of his personal goals.
Q: As one of La Costa Canyon’s team captains, how satisfied are you with the team’s performance so far this season? What has been the best thing you’ve seen (from the team) and where can it still improve?
Wagstaff: So far, this season has been one of the best starts the school has seen in a while. Team chemistry is a big factor. Sometimes it’s a challenge to develop that in high school and I think that might have held us back a little last year. This year it’s totally different. We’re playing better and at practices it feels like we’re a family.
We have an amazing program and our guys like to have fun. One of the biggest things we have to do is constantly remind ourselves to stay on track — keep it light but know when to tighten it up.
Q: The Mavericks started the Avocado West League season last week with a pair of home victories. How would you handicap this year’s league race?
Wagstaff: This league is tough. Every single day at practice, we talk about how any opponent can be dangerous if we’re not ready to play.
Our team is first in the league standings with two victories under our belt but we have yet to play top teams such as Canyon Crest and Torrey Pines. We play both teams twice. Those games will be insane battles and will ultimately decide who will win the Avocado West.
Q: What league team would you most like to beat?
Wagstaff: LCC and Torrey Pines is always a game the players and spectators look forward to. The rivalry between our two schools never fails to bring out the best soccer from each side. My club coach at Encinitas Express, Andy Hargreaves, is the Torrey Pines head coach as well, so it’s always a good opportunity to impress him.
Q: What would you consider your best sport outside of soccer? Is there a sport where you think you’d be seriously awful?
Wagstaff: Outside of soccer I would say my best sport would be cross country because I love to run. I took first place in many races during middle school cross country. I have a lot of respect for the discipline required of the sport. I would say my worst sport would be baseball. I enjoy watching the game but it doesn’t translate well to my skill set. Soccer is all lower body while baseball is very slow and doesn’t reward endurance that much.
Q: If you had the power, what would you change about the game of soccer?
Wagstaff: If I were to change one aspect of soccer, I wouldn’t change the game itself but rather the popularity of the game within the United States. I would love to see soccer become a more popular spectator sport in high school.
Q: On your team, who is the smartest, the funniest, the toughest, hardest to defend one-on-one and the one you’d most want on the spot if you needed one PK converted for a CIF Championship?
Wagstaff: One of the smartest players on our team is our junior captain Jake Aknes. He has a natural ability to read the game, and off the field he has an amazing GPA. The funniest kid on our team without a doubt is Brett Vitale. Even in the worst situations, like after losing a game, he has the ability to bring a smile to all our faces.
The toughest kid on our team is Liam Filler. He isn’t afraid of anything and his rugby attitude definitely shows on the soccer pitch as well. The toughest to defend one-on-one is Lucas Thile because of his insane speed and strong body type.
The person who I would chose to take a PK is our special player Jacob Chong. He is the most confident player I’ve ever played with and it’s well-deserved. His calm and composed nature is a gift that will lead LCC to many more victories.
Q: How would you describe your head coach? What type of impact has he had on you as a player and a person?
Wagstaff: My head coach, Craig Dean, is someone who I have a lot of respect for. He has been a mentor for me and I’m very lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to play under him. When our team steps out onto the pitch and the whistle blows we don’t just play for ourselves but mainly for him. He pushes us and drives us to be our best. He has personally helped me through many obstacles that have come my way and I am forever grateful for him.
Q: What is the best trait that you’ve inherited from your father? Your mother?
Wagstaff: The best trait I’ve inherited from my father is his determined attitude. He’s someone who I want to be like when I grow up. The best trait that I’ve inherited from my mother is her caring nature.
Q: What is the favorite class you’ve taken at LCC?
Wagstaff: My favorite class that I’ve taken at LCC is Associated Student Body (ASB). This class has allowed me to connect with many people that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Since I am the ASB Treasurer it also helps me manage budgets. My favorite teacher is Ms. Rector who teaches that class. She has been an inspiration to me due to her contagious, happy personality and willingness to help everyone around her.
Q: In your spare time, you enjoy being outdoors and hiking. For you, what’s the best part of that and what’s one of your preferred local destinations?
Wagstaff: The best part about hiking is discovering new places. Having a break from school and electronics is the best way to relax. My favorite local places are along the shore in Solana Beach and La Jolla. Among the places I’ve adventured outside of San Diego are Laguna and Malibu.
Q: Can you share something that friends and fans would be most surprised to know about you?
Wagstaff: One thing that my friends and fans don’t know about me yet is that I have committed to Cal State San Marcos to play soccer.
Q: What is one thing you’d like to accomplish by the end of the school year? In the next five years? In the next 10 years?
Wagstaff: One thing that I would like to accomplish this year is to win CIF and then State. In the next five years I would like to have earned a starting spot and become a captain on the Cal State San Marcos soccer team and win the league (California Collegiate Athletic Association). In the next 10 years I would like to either further my soccer career past college or pursue a job with the help of my business degree.