Michael Chang posting career season

Gael’s family and team motivating him to success in breakout start to season

Michael Chang has the most shots on goal for a midfielder in the OUA with 23.
Michael Chang has the most shots on goal for a midfielder in the OUA with 23.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

This year, Michael Chang has exploded onto the OUA soccer radar. 

Through the men’s soccer team’s first eight games, the 5’9” midfielder has certainly found his form—already doubling his previous career total of goals with four. Three of his tallies were game-winners, tying him for second-most in the league and serving as a reason for why Queen’s has enjoyed a promising 6-3 start to their campaign.

Despite his breakthrough campaign, though, Chang has been humble in response to his recent play. In an interview with The Journal, the midfielder deflected praise to his teammates. 

“They’re are the ones pushing me to be better, pushing me to improve,” he said.

For Chang, much of the season has been emotionally-charged due to a recent injury his sister, Samantha, sustained playing soccer at the University of South Carolina—something that brings back memories from his middle school days.

In eighth grade, Chang had damaged one of his patellofemoral ligaments while playing soccer and took more than a year to recover. While he missed out on winning a national championship with his hometown under-14 club, his passion for the sport never wavered. 

“Watching it, playing it, I absolutely love it,” Chang said of his attachment to the sport. “Growing up, I couldn’t imagine not competing every summer.” 

With his sister on the sidelines, Chang has found an extra jump in his step—inspired by his hopes of her returning to the pitch.

“I want to show that with dedication and putting in the work, it’s going to work out,” he said. “She’s going to have a great career.”

This is Chang’s third year with the program and playing under Queen’s head coach Christian Hoefler—and there’s a clear, mutual admiration between the two. 

Chang credits Hoefler for the environment and culture of excellence that’s been established within the team, and for pushing him to improve and embrace the creative side of his game. 

From Hoefler’s perspective, his starting midfielder’s breakout season was always fast approaching.  

“[He was one of the players] I hand-picked to join the program,” Hoefler said of Chang, “and most of that was because of [his] character.”

Hoefler added he had endless reasons to recruit Chang to the team two years ago. 

“He can be quite lethal,” he said. “[With his] quality and technical ability, he can play many roles.”

In his first eight games this season, Chang’s offensive play has been tough to ignore. He’s peppered opposing goalies with 23 shots, good for any midfielder in the OUA.

But beyond attacking and getting balls on net, Chang’s been embracing his identity as a creative spark plug for the Gaels.

“I’ve just been working on taking my opportunities better [and] being more offensive minded. I think just letting the game come to me a bit more this year and not forcing anything [has been the key].”

According to Chang, Hoefler has been working on fostering a team identity based on quick, technical passes, and playing fast-paced soccer—a plan Chang enthusiastically welcomes. 

“I think I do [embody the team identity],” Chang said. “So do lots of the other guys, that’s where our chemistry comes in.”

He worked hard all summer to improve his playmaking, honing his unpredictable game by playing futsal, a form of indoor soccer with five players per team. The results speak for themselves. 

“I feel more confident on the ball. I’m dribbling more,” Chang said. “I think that’s why I’m scoring more this year. So much of it is just my teammates’ belief in me … That’s really helped me up my game this year over previous years.”

After enduring two disappointing seasons to open his career with the Gaels, Chang and his teammates look posed for a promising year. 

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