Coming out of Kingston, Jamaica, Justin McMaster was a highly-touted recruit with offers from soccer giants such as Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia and Villanova. McMaster has represented Jamaica in both the U-15 and U-17 CONCACAF Championship, attended the U.S. U-18 National Team Camp in 2016 and played amateur soccer in the U.S. for the Philadelphia Union Academy. During his freshman year, he showed some promising runs with assists in each of his first two matches at the collegiate level. He finished his freshman year with two goals and three assists. His sophomore season saw another jump in production with six goals and four assists in 18 games. He had game-winning goals against Clemson and No. 6 Virginia, both games on the road.
However, his second year was hampered by injuries, which prevented him from notching even better numbers. Now, in 2019, he expects to capitalize on a healthy summer and help bring a national championship back to Wake Forest for the first time since 2007.
Rafael Lima: We’re just two days away from the begining of soccer season. What are your expectations for the first game against UCF and for the season in general?
Justin McMaster: I have good expectations. I believe that the team is really prepared. We had a tough preseason and went through some tough training. I feel like this has helped us to be ready to go up against UCF.
RL: Is there anything specific that you all have to pay attention or try to limit from UCF’s game?
JM: We went over the film and we know how they play. We have some expectations about [the way they play]. During our training we tried to prepare for them, for their playing style and [during] the game we’ll just have to adapt to them.
RL: In 2018, you had a season full of ups and downs with some brilliant moments, but also some injury problems. How do you think this upcoming season will unfold for you?
JM: I’m hoping to have a good season, a strong season. I’m just focusing on staying healthy because that is the most important thing [due] to how short the season is, [especially] the NCAA [tournament]. Overall, just trying to stay health and getting into a good groove scoring goals and helping our team to move forward.
RL: The men’s soccer team seems to have a really good connection on and off the pitch. Do you spend a lot of time together outside of training and the classroom?
JM: Yeah, outside of the classroom, if we’re not trainning, you know, the guys come over to play FIFA and play some video games. We also go get food [together] and we all talk [to each other], so we definitely have a strong relationship on the team.
RL: Which team do you play with on FIFA?
JM: I use Bayern Munich. They have some skillers and some pace on the side like [winger] Kingsley Coman and they also have [Robert] Lewandowski up top to finish off the goals. So, that’s pretty good for me.
RL: Who are you most excited to play alongside this season?
JM: I think I’m most excited to play alongside Machop Chol up top. He and I have
a strong connection. We have good chemistry. We’re both attack-minded players. We like to move forward. I feel like we would play well together.
RL: Your team has been pretty close to winning it all in the past and you definitely seem to have all the talent needed to do it. What is the team’s mindset for 2019?
JM: Our mindset for this year is just being disciplined. We have a disciplined mindset. We’re working hard for each other on and off the field. Just showing respect for ourselves and always respecting our opponents [by] just giving each oppoent our very best every single time.
RL: Is there anything that you would like people to know about the men’s soccer team that they might not know on the surface?
JM: We have some very humble guys. If you see us walking around campus you can always come and talk with us. Yeah, I’d say we’re very down-to-earth. I think this has a lot to do with the mix of a lot of cultures on our team. We got people from all different types of countries. I feel like we have a good mix of people.