Credit: Kyle Calzia | Mustang News



Crossing a national border, more than 33 miles, in up to seven-hour round trips six days a week. All for the game of soccer. Sophomore goalkeeper Carlos Arce-Hurtado is used to taking the long road to achieve his goals.

“I feel like all soccer stories are crazy … mine has that, plus I had to go back and forth everyday, I was travelling countries everyday,” Arce-Hurtado said.

After a thrilling debut start in goal last season, Arce-Hurtado had a long wait before stepping foot on the field again. Despite the 10-save performance in his debut-game, the goalkeeper did not play another minute for the rest of his freshman season.

Arce-Hurtado refused to let the situation keep him down he stayed quiet and kept working. Coming into the 2019 season, the sophomore had his eyes set on the starting position in goal for the Mustangs. 

For Arce-Hurtado, taking a long journey to reach his goal is nothing new.

Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Growing up in two places

Arce-Hurtado was raised and schooled a few miles from the Mexico-United States border in Tijuana. However, the goalkeeper played for Nomads Soccer Club, which is based out of San Diego. Getting from home to practice presented a challenge for Arce-Hurtado, but one that he did not shy away from. 

“One of the most impressive things about Carlos is that he literally would drive across the border of Mexico and train in La Jolla five to six days out of the week,” head coach Steve Sampson said. “He also, at the same time, was an outstanding student.”

Practice for Nomads was usually from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. Arce-Hurtado had to leave his home in Tijuana between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to get to the border, where he would walk across into the U.S.

He would then get a ride to practice in La Jolla from Nomads and Cal Poly teammate Luis Rodriguez. Arce-Hurtado asked Rodriguez for rides once he joined Nomads and it helped bring the two together.

“It became a routine, and then we just bonded from there and became really close,” Rodriguez said.

Arce-Hurtado would head back to the border after practice, walk across again, and be driven back to Tijuana by his parents. He usually got home between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and would immediately start his homework. Arce-Hurtado said it was difficult to make this trip five to six days a week, but to become a professional soccer player, he had no second thoughts.

“I feel like it’s the kind of thing where you would say, ‘You didn’t like it, but you wouldn’t change it,’” Arce-Hurtado said. “This helped me shape my character, to know that this was hard and I will struggle and it will take a lot of time, but this is what I want to be.”

Arce-Hurtado’s hard work did not stop after he was recruited by Cal Poly, however, as he had to learn English as a freshman while being a new member of the soccer team. On top of that, he was placed in 20 units during his first quarter. 

When he arrived at Cal Poly, Arce-Hurtado only spoke “half English” and was new to the culture of America. Now in his third year with the team, Arce-Hurtado has made big strides in learning the language and is adjusting well to college life.

“It inspires and motivates, because you see the struggles that he had to go through, like pretty much going to a foreign country with a foreign language,” Rodriguez said. “Seeing him transition and sort of be able to be himself at the same time is pretty inspiring.”

While recruiting Arce-Hurtado, Sampson not only noticed Arce-Hurtado’s talent as a goalkeeper, but his drive to balance his craft with academics as well.

“The commitment to drive back and forth, to get your homework done, to get good grades … and to be an exceptional soccer player really is to his credit,” Sampson said. “And that part of his character was one of the deciding factors to bring him to Cal Poly.”

After redshirting during his freshman year, Arce-Hurtado was stuck behind senior goalkeeper Simon Boehme. Boehme was a stalwart in the lineup for his junior and senior years and started 27 of a possible 29 matches. Boehme produced 129 saves in that stretch and ranked third in program history in save percentage (.771).

Arce-Hurtado’s chance eventually started in the Mustangs’ match against UC Riverside on Oct. 6, 2018.

Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Collegiate debut

Arce-Hurtado was set to make a spot-start for Boehme due to an injury that left Boehme temporarily sidelined. Despite the pressure and nerves that come along with a debut game, Arce-Hurtado said he felt ready for the spotlight.

“I didn’t feel nervous at all, because it was something that I really wanted, it was something I was really working for,” Arce-Hurtado said. “I felt like it was my time, and I deserved it, so I’m going to prove myself.” 

Arce-Hurtado made three saves in overtime to put his tally at 10, which was the most by a Mustang goalkeeper since Boehme’s 12 saves against Notre Dame the previous season. UC Riverside managed a late goal in the second overtime period to win the game 1-0. 

The 10 saves were also the most by any Mustang goalkeeper in a single match for the remainder of the season. Though they were not surprised, the Mustang coaching staff said they were happy with Arce-Hurtado’s performance despite the tough loss.

“It was pretty good, and that’s what we expect, it’s no surprise for this guy who is working hard,” goalkeeper coach Ignacio Hernandez said. 

Arce-Hurtado said the work he put in as a youth player helped him feel ready for his collegiate debut.

“I said ‘You know what, you were prepared for this,’” Arce-Hurtado said. “When I was growing up, I was prepared to struggle, and I know how hard it is to get to first division [soccer], but it’s the dream … I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t do as much as I could.”

Boehme returned to the starting lineup the next match and remained a starter for the rest of the year. Arce-Hurtado did not play another minute during the season. 

This presented another challenging situation for Arce-Hurtado, who felt as though he had proved himself after his debut. However, the sophomore also said he understood the needs of the team.

“I felt like it was part of the game, and that’s how it is,” Arce-Hurtado said. “So I just kept quiet and kept working.”

With Boehme graduated, Arce-Hurtado knew the 2019 season provided a chance to prove his talent again. Since the start of the season, he has been doing exactly that.

Diego Rivera | Mustang News

Claiming a starting role

“[2019] has to be my year. This has to be my year,” Arce-Hurtado said. “That was my mindset coming into this year, and so far, it’s going great.”

After a goalkeeper battle with junior Jason Hernandez during the early stages of the season, Arce-Hurtado claimed the starting role and has produced two shutouts so far this season.

“I’m happy, getting that role after all the work I’ve put in is something I’m really proud of,” Arce-Hurtado said. “Now that I have it, I just don’t want to lose it.”

Arce-Hurtado’s hardworking persona is rooted in the grind he showed as a youth player. Getting to practice everyday, the long hours in training and keeping up grades prepared him for the role of Men’s Soccer’s starting goalkeeper.

“I believe that no one gave me anything when I was growing up, it was for myself and I had to work to get the stuff I wanted to,” Arce-Hurtado said.

Arce-Hurtado produced 34 saves with 11 starts on the season. Despite a tough stretch of losses for the Mustangs during early October, Arce-Hurtado kept Cal Poly in the game during many of those matches. The goalkeeper produced a season-high six saves against UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 5.

“I really believe that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg with [Arce-Hurtado],” Sampson said. “If he continues to grow at the pace that he is right now, I think he could literally become one of the best goalkeepers in the country.”

The countless miles traveled to practice as a youth player. The dazzling debut and road to claiming a starting role. With two years of college soccer left and a dream of playing professionally, Arce-Hurtado’s journey is just beginning.

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