Martinez makes it work on, off the pitch

Paul Brandon/UMass Boston
Denis Martinez

Denis Martinez helped the UMass Boston men’s soccer team to Little East Conference tournament championships as a freshman and sophomore. The Chelsea High grad is now a junior captain of a squad looking for another title and the spot in the NCAA Division 3 tournament that comes with it. A 5-foot-7, 165-pound midfielder Martinez was named second-team All-Little East. Last season, he and the defense posted 10 shutouts in 23 games on the way to an 18-2-3 overall record. Martinez injured his knee in last year’s Little East championship game win over Rhode Island College and he was able to play only six minutes in the team’s three NCAA tournament games. He is the proud father of Emma, 1.

Q. When did you start playing soccer?

A. Around the age of eight, but I was always around soccer since my dad [Mauricio] played in men’s leagues. The whole family was on the same team back then and they played all around Chelsea and Revere.

Q. What was the attraction of the game to you?

A. I think I basically grew up into it with my dad, and I liked the fans and the atmosphere around the sport.

Q. What’s your best soccer memory so far at UMass Boston?


A. The two conference championships we’ve won. Both went to overtime and were tight games. I think the first one was the most exciting. It was the first one and I didn’t know what to expect in my first year in college, so it was great.

Q. What was it like having to watch the NCAA games from the sidelines last year with your injury?

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A. It was frustrating. It was more nerve-wracking on the bench than in the game, just not being able to play and knowing I could be out there, but I’m not.

Q. How would you describe your role as a midfielder?

A. To win the ball back when they have it and when we have it to keep the tempo how we want to play. Our tempo depends on how the game is going and if we want to attack. Or, if we want to slow the game down, it’s up to us in the middle.

Q. What are your plans for a major and after college?

A. I think I want to go into criminal justice, probably be a social worker and help out with the kids in Chelsea. You just see a lot of troubled kids around here. Some of my friends from growing up are in jail or in bad situations.

Q. Do you have a favorite soccer team?

A. Not really. I just watch all the games.

Q. A favorite player?


A. It’s always been Andres Iniesta from Barcelona. I like the way he plays. He always controls the ball and doesn’t lose it much.

Q. How does working and having a young daughter effect how you go about your school day and your approach to soccer?

A. It gives me less time for everything, but I make it work. She pushes me to work hard in school and in games and coming home to a smiling face is amazing.

Q. What’s been your most favorite class at UMass Boston?

A. I’d have to say juvenile delinquency. It was just interesting, everything you learn, the statistics and stuff like that about kids getting into trouble.

Q. What has soccer done for you?

A. Soccer has always kept me away from the streets and given me something to do in my spare time.

Q. What’s your favorite place to visit in New England?

A. I think Boston Common. I just remember my mom taking me there when I was little. It’s a fun place to go and think about the past.

Q. What’s the best part of your game?


A. I think it’s my passing. My short passing and my long passing, they’re usually a big part of my game. I’m usually competing for the ball. I don’t lose the ball much. We’re a passing team and you have to be good on our team at passing. We try not to hit long balls. We try to build out of the back.

Q. What’s been the team’s best game so far this year?

A. I think it was Plymouth State (a 3-0 win on Sept 23). They’re a good team and we actually finished, which we’ve been having a tough time doing.

Q. Can you tell me a little about your fellow captain, Marcelo Cunha?

A. He makes center back one of our stronger positions. He’s very strong in the back and controls everything from behind. He’s a strong tackler. Not much gets by him.


For complete interview, go to Allen Lessels can be reached at