Erick Martinez-Stucchi made his debut with the Merced College men’s soccer team this past week.
The 2020 Central Valley High School grad contributed at goalkeeper during the Blue Devils’ 3-0 win over Lassen College on Friday in Merced.
“Obviously, there were jitters,” Martinez-Stucchi said. “The last time I played soccer was the first round of state with Central Valley in (March of) 2020. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for over a year.”
Martinez-Stucchi was named Merced College’s starting goalkeeper during warmups.
“I found out right before the game,” he said. “It was very exciting. All I wanted to do was play and play at a high level. I think I did a good job.
“Every week is a clean slate. I’m going to make sure I keep my spot. Consistency is a big thing. I’m going to bring my A game at all times. As a goalkeeper, you got to be smart and know how the other positions work and function.”
Martinez-Stucchi was also named a team captain.
“I’ve been playing the sport for a long time,” he said. “I’ve always been a very vocal player. I like to assume a leadership role know matter where I’m at.”
Martinez-Stucchi spent the 2020-21 school year at Modesto Junior College.
The Central Valley Conference canceled sports in the fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sports impacted included soccer, football, volleyball, wrestling, cross country, water polo and basketball.
“It was very frustrating at first because I’m always used to having a schedule where I play against different teams and not just practice,” he said. “I stayed ready so I didn’t have to get ready. I’d go on runs. I’d work out. I was dieting. I was mentally prepared.”
Martinez-Stucchi decided to leave Modesto Junior College because he wanted a fresh start.
He commutes to Merced five times a week.
Practices are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 3-5 p.m.
Matches are staged on Tuesdays and Fridays.
“There’s a big difference,” Martinez-Stucchi said while talking about how his mindset changed when he became a collegiate athlete. “I’ve learned from my mistakes. In high school, you can get by on the bare minimum. Once you get to college, you have to come in prepared and work hard every single day. You have to be consistent. You have to fight for your spot. It can be taken from you at any moment. The coach is going to put the best 11 players out there.”
Erick’s older brother Luis played soccer for UC Merced.
“My plan is to impress the right people and find a new home,” Erick said. “All I need is one opportunity to prove to a scout or coach I can play at a high level. My strength is my IQ of the game. I’m a very competitive person. I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
Martinez-Stucchi is majoring in communications at Merced College.
“I want to get into sports media,” he said.
Martinez-Stucchi starred on Central Valley High School’s boys soccer team for three seasons.
He helped the Hawks continue their tradition of excellence.
Martinez-Stucchi filled a key role as Central Valley advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II finals for the second year in a row, posted a 20-5-3 overall record and claimed its second consecutive Central California Conference crown (9-1-2) during the 2019-20 school year.
The Hawks placed first at the Lancer Cup in Manteca.
Central Valley had unbeaten streaks of 14 and nine games.
The Hawks outscored their opponents 79-29, including 35-8 in league play.
Martinez-Stucchi earned first-team all-CCC honors senior year.
He was voted CCC Goalkeeper of the Year as a junior.
He was selected to the Western Athletic Conference First Team as a sophomore.
Martinez-Stucchi was a first-team, all-WAC selection freshman year at Ceres High School.