As long as he can remember, Cal Poly freshman David Zamora has had grass stained jerseys and the ambition to become a successful soccer player.
This 20-year-old Costa Rican native grew up playing soccer along with everyone else. “Soccer is the main sport (in Costa Rica) so everyone practices it,” Zamora said.
What separates him from “everyone else” was his true passion for the game.
“I always loved playing soccer and since I was a little kid my dream has been to become a pro,” he said.
Zamora’s life in Costa Rica represents a place where his family and friends are and even though Zamora’s younger sister, Andrea, and older brother, Rafael, also attend Cal Poly, Zamora refers to Costa Rica as “paradise.”
Along with his siblings’ choice to attend Cal Poly, Zamora realized the importance of this decision. While in Costa Rica, his passion for soccer overpowered his drive to learn.
“If I had stayed in Costa Rica I probably wouldn’t have finished college,” he said. “That’s because I used to play for Saprissa, one of the biggest clubs there, and I was studying part-time and focusing more on my career as a player than as a student.”
This might be the case for anyone who is a two-time National Champion and the second best scorer during a tournament with 18 goals, both of which he accomplished while with Saprissa.
Now this business freshman is getting a chance to excel in his studies and take away a new experience from the field.
“The entire college soccer experience is something I will learn playing for Cal Poly,” he said. “The way soccer is played in college is a lot different than with FIFA rules.”
No matter how different the rules may be, Zamora will prove that the expectations swarming around his name are not just word of mouth.
“I think I can bring experience as well as more presence and strength in our attacking,” Zamora said.
Cal Poly men’s soccer head coach Paul Holocher agrees that Zamora “does many things well,” but stressed that what Zamora does best of all is play intelligently.
“He plays simple and with good composure around the goal,” Holocher said. “When we play the ball forward to David he has the ability to hold the ball for us in possession, shield the ball and pass, which allows our midfield to get forward into the attack.”
“David had a goal scorer’s mentality as well, he can shoot well with both feet and score with his head,” Holocher said.
However, Holocher expressed there is still a lot to hold up to during the rest of the season.
“Our expectation level for David and the team (is) high,” he said. “We want and believe we can become an NCAA playoff team and that we can win every game we play.”
For Zamora personally, Holocher said he just wants him to relish the great experiences they are having as a team and to enjoy himself.
Being able to live up to his coach’s expectations of what he can do on the field hasn’t been hard for Zamora so far.
With Cal Poly being undefeated at home and posting a record of 9-1-2 overall and 4-0-2 in the Big West Conference, Zamora’s teammates will be the first to tell you he has played a key role.
“He has the ability to become one of the best,” said Cal Poly sophomore defender Joshua Didion. “His finishing, positioning and ability to hold the ball for us has been a huge influence on our success.”
Zamora said his major talents reside in holding the ball and keeping possession of it. “I like to score free kicks so I try to practice them as often as I can,” he said.
Zamora prides himself in being a team player and one who is able to maintain a positive attitude in most games, but he isn’t afraid to admit there are times when keeping up that attitude is impossible.
“I consider myself a team player; that’s why I happen to like this sport that is 11 players working at the same time for the same purpose. Otherwise, I would probably be playing golf or boxing,” he said.
This spirit reflects in his teammates’ opinion of him. “Playing with Zamora is great. He plays with confidence and class. He has a high level of maturity off the field as well,” said Cal Poly senior defender and midfielder Ryan Ulanch. “He has great drive and holds himself to a high standard which rubs off on the guys around him.”
But is there anything Zamora doesn’t excel at on the field?
“With Coach Paul, I am in the process of becoming a more complete player by improving my defensive skills, which are not as good as they could be,” Zamora said.
Still, whether Zamora succeeds individually or not is not as important to him as how the team does as a whole.
“We are a pretty close-together, hard-working team that is looking to become one of the best programs in the country in the next couple of years and right now to make it to the playoffs and, why not, even to the final,” Zamora said. “All these for the community, the school and ourselves.”
These are all goals the team is mutually striving for and the team’s talent doesn’t end with Zamora.
“Kyle Montgomery (a freshman forward and midfielder) has been working well with David up top recently,” Holocher said. “They compliment each other very well. David is big and strong and Kyle is very, very quick. Defenses have trouble defending these different styles when they are on the field together.”
Another notable player is junior forward and midfielder Anthony Grillo, who recently made Soccer America’s National Team of the Week.
So they may have the talent, the drive and the team spirit down, but for this men’s soccer team, no season is complete without the support from their fans.
“The fans play such a big role. There are a lot of parents and players from other teams (who) say Cal Poly is one of the hardest places to play because the crowd is so supportive and we appreciate every person that comes out,” said Ulanch.
Up next for the Mustangs is a home game against UC Riverside at 7 p.m Oct. 27.
“We want everyone to come out to support us in our games because that really makes a difference in the performance of a team,” Zamora said. “Now more importantly than ever, since these are the last couple of games left in our way of getting into the playoffs.”
Zamora aspires to play professionally after college.
“He is only a freshman, so the sky’s the limit to where he can go after college,” said senior defender Casey Cordray. “If he continues to play like he is now, I have no doubt we will continue to do well.”