Matt Martin was put in goal after a middle school injury. The All-American hasn’t left since.

| Contributing Writer

Martin sends the ball down the field in the team’s home opener versus Greenville. (Photo by Clara Richards | Student Life)

Matt Martin is a fifth-year starting goalkeeper for the Washington University men’s soccer team. A standout at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, California, Martin has made 104 saves since taking the starting role in the 2018-19 season. Student Life sat down with Martin to discuss his long career with WashU soccer and restaurants in St. Louis that he would recommend.

Responses were edited for length and clarity. 

Student Life: How did you first become interested in soccer? 

Matt Martin: I got put into a [recreational] league by my parents when I was four. From there, I always enjoyed it and never really stopped. Getting older, it’s been a bigger and bigger part of my life, and it was always one of the things I fell back on to have some fun and meet some friends. 

SL: And how did you become a goalkeeper? 

MM: I actually used to play center back, but when I was in middle school, I had a pretty bad knee injury. I was out for about six months, and I didn’t know the process of going through rehab or really getting my fitness back. Essentially, I came back, and I wasn’t nearly as good. My coach decided to put me in goal one game because our goalie got hurt, and I actually played pretty well. [He] himself [was] a goalie coach, and he told me that if I wanted to play goalie, that switch could be good for me. So, I decided to switch, and I haven’t looked back since. 

SL: Do you prefer goalie or center back? 

MM: Now, I would probably say being in goal — but there’s something about playing in the field. It’s cliche to say, but being a goalie is one of the loneliest positions in soccer. You feel like you’re a different part of the team while being on the team, which is an interesting dynamic. 

SL: Can you tell us about why you chose WashU for your athletic and academic careers? 

MM: This was really the best combination of athletics and academics I could get. I’m from Northern California, and I had never heard of the school until someone from WashU came to speak at my high school. I happened to go to that meeting, and I thought it seemed like they really [cared] about their sports teams, regardless of what division they were in. I didn’t realize something like that existed. WashU was the best of both worlds, and I’ve been really happy with it since.  

SL: You’ve been involved with many iterations of WashU men’s soccer teams. What’s your favorite memory from the team? 

MM: My favorite memory [is from] this past season: when we beat [University of Chicago] in the UAA tournament. Every season, it seemed impossible to even come close to competing against Chicago because of the talent [that] they have on that team. [Our] win really showed us, in that moment, [that] all the work we had been putting in paid off. It seemed like everything just came together. I’ll probably never forget [what it was like] when the final whistle blew; I was just so amazed and so happy for everything we had done together as a team.  

SL: Wow, that’s really special. What stands out to you about this year’s team? 

MM: We have a really young team now, and that’s honestly really good for us going forward. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of different players that weren‘t in [a big] leadership role this past year to really step up. We just need to take everything that we have to help out all the new freshmen and the younger players and work from there. We’re all getting along and really working hard together. It’s easy to see us handling adversity, which is one of the biggest things for us throughout the season.  

SL: Tell us a little bit about your #30. Is there any significance behind the number? 

MM: I’m gonna be completely honest — I’m not the biggest fan of the number 30. The way jersey sizing works, there are certain numbers for certain sizes. The numbers I would have preferred are for guys who are a lot smaller than me. I kind of ended up liking it the past few years because, even though most top goalies wear number 1 or 0, I’m able to define my number myself.  

SL: What song do you have on repeat right now? 

MM: Let me check. All the guys know that I’m playing “Location” by Dave (ft. Burna Boy). Yeah, that’s gotta be it.  

SL: What’s your favorite thing to do in St. Louis? 

MM: I would probably say trying new food in Tower Grove or in places that aren’t close to campus. Living off-campus with a lot of guys on the team, we’re able to try more things now that we have cars. One of the guys on the team and I found this place [called] “Songbird.” It’s a breakfast spot in Tower Grove. We would just go there and chill once a week. Some of those memories are probably the best I’ve made on the team. So, I’d say just finding new places to eat in St. Louis.

SL: Finally — we ask this question at the end of every Athlete of the Week Interview — would you rather have fish for hands or adopt and raise a child every time you heard Bohemian Rhapsody? 

MM: That’s tough, man. They’re such different things. In the short-term, I want to say adopt a child because I need my hands to play. No, it’s got to be fish for hands. I’m going to hear that song more than 20 times. There’s no way I can take care of that many kids.  

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