SEASON REVIEW: Not What They Expected

June 23, 2008

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The 2007 men's soccer season will not be looked back upon fondly as LMU slumped to a 3-16-1 overall record and a last-place finish in the West Coast Conference with a 1-11-0 mark in league play. Still, a young Lion roster that featured 17 underclassmen and was hit by the injury bug provided some memorable moments with its three victories all coming against nationally-ranked opponents.

Season Recap
The LMU coaching staff knew entering the season that it would be young and heavily reliant on players staying healthy. Injuries and youth seemed to define the season as it wore on and the Lions found themselves lacking veteran leadership and rarely able to field their top side. The injury crisis started on the first day of training camp when heralded freshman Go Eto suffered a broken leg in the second training session and would miss the entire season. Several other injuries hampered the Lions in the early going, with senior captain Adam Sloustcher missing the opener, a 2-0 home loss to Cal Poly. LMU would get its first win the following week at the TLC Plumbing & Utility Invitational at Albuquerque, NM. Junior Brad Stisser's eighth minute free kick proved the difference as redshirt freshman Patrick Lane recorded a shutout in his second career start. Lane remained stellar over the next three games, allowing just one goal in each, but he got no support from his offense, which was shutout in all three contests, all 1-0 defeats.
The Lions returned home for the LMU Invitational, in which they hosted #7 Harvard in the opener, their third straight match against a ranked opponent. With only one goal in its first five matches, LMU switched gears on offense, putting junior Jawaan Delaney up top. He responded by scoring in the fifth minute to begin the upset bid but went down in the second half with a broken ankle, ruling him out for the rest of the year. Even so, redshirt freshman Josh Carroll doubled the Lion lead 37 seconds into the second half to the delight of the home crowd. Harvard would strike back in the 61st minute but sophomore Steffen Canty restored LMU's two-goal lead two minutes later. Although Harvard added another goal to make for an exciting final 10 minutes, the Lions held on for their second victory of the season, both over top-20 opponents.
Unfortunately, the Lions could not use the momentum from their triumph to string together the results they needed. Following their win over Harvard, the Lions battled Columbia to a goalless draw before opening WCC play with eight straight losses during a stretch in which they lost nine in a row overall. LMU held close in most of the contests - dropping four of the games by a single goal. The streak was snapped with a win over, what else, a ranked opponent when junior Garrett Maloney's 12th-minute goal at home on November 9 against #23 Gonzaga held up for LMU's lone WCC win of the year.
Despite their record, the Lions can take a lot away from the 2007 season. Thirteen players made their first appearance in the LMU uniform during the campaign, and the Lions lost just four players to graduation and bring back over 80% of their goal-scoring for 2008.

Slaying the Giants
LMU faced one of its toughest schedules in recent years, going up against eight ranked opponents in 2007, including three in the top-10. All three of LMU's wins came against ranked foes, as the team took out #17 New Mexico on the road and #7 Harvard and #23 Gonzaga at home. Overall, the Lions were 3-5-0 against teams from the top-25. The eight ranked opponents were the most LMU has faced in a single season since 2004, when they played against nine top-25 schools. Since 1992, LMU has been quite successful when battling the best programs in the nation, going 22-32-4 overall, including a winning record of 17-16-3 at Sullivan Field.

Gomez Named Lowe's First Team Senior All-American
Senior Trini Gomez put himself among some elite company when he was one of five players named to the Lowe's Senior All-American First Team. Gomez, who graduated in May with a degree in biological sciences. The honor caps a season-long balloting process in a national media panel pared the field to 20 candidates and then selected a top-10. Online fan voting decided the finalists. The award recognized men's soccer seniors who had exemplified themselves in the categories of Classroom, Character, Community, and Competition. Gomez proved himself in all four categories but was boosted by his non-soccer activities as, of the 10 finalists, he was one of just three whose teams did not make the NCAA Tournament.

Sloustcher Signs MLS Contract
His senior season in the bag but not without the success he had anticipated, Adam Sloustcher concluded his career on a happy note in April by signing a development contract with his hometown San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. In doing so, he became the eighth Lion under Paul Krumpe to sign a professional contract with an MLS squad.

Bobby Burling `07 Makes MLS Debut
Speaking of LMU players in the MLS, the last player to sign a professional contract, Bobby Burling, made his first-team debut with Chivas USA when he started against New England on May 11. Burling captained the Lions in his senior 2006 season and was a First Team All-WCC selection.

Krumpe Inducted into West Torrance HS Hall of Fame
In his career, Paul Krumpe has been called an NCAA Champion, Olympian, professional athlete, and coach, but on June 6, he added another title to his resume: Hall of Famer. On that date, Krumpe, a 1982 graduate, was among the inaugural class inducted into the West Torrance High School Hall of Fame.

Score Prediction? Good Money Says 1-0
The most prevalent scoreline for the Lions was 1-0, with seven matches finishing with that narrowest of margins. Unfortunately for LMU, it has ended up on the wrong side of the result in five of those contests and three of the 1-0 defeats came at the hands of ranked opponents. Last season, LMU played six matches that ended 1-0, posting a 2-4 mark.
In total, LMU played 11 matches that were decided by one goal or fewer, going 3-8-1 in those games.

A Game of Two Halves
It may be one of the biggest clichés in soccer but in the case of the 2007 Lions, it is profound. All three of LMU's victories came when the team was leading at the half but overcoming a deficit is not its strong suit, going 0-8-0 when trailing after 45 minutes. The problems can be traced further back as the Lions never posted a come-from-behind victory, going 0-13-0 when their opponents scored the game's first goal.

Baca Rises to the Top
Freshman Rafael Baca made an immediate impact on the collegiate soccer scene, leading the Lions in assists and points to earn Second Team All-WCC and WCC All-Freshman Team honors. The South Bay Daily Breeze Regional Player of the Year as a senior in high school, Baca was one of just three LMU players to start 19 games in 2007. After a pair of assists in the upset win over #7 Harvard that earned him all-tournament honors, Baca found the net himself at #23 Gonzaga, scoring his first collegiate goal to tie the game at 1-1. His five assists tied him for sixth in the WCC.

Stisser Strikes
Junior Brad Stisser was among four players tied atop the LMU goals list after with two goals. Stisser proved himself to be a free kick master, with both of his strikes coming from dead-ball situations. The first was the game-winner at #17 New Mexico, for which he earned all-tournament honors. The second goal came on a free kick at San Francisco.
Stisser has six goals on the Bluff since transferring in from Coastal Carolina in 2006, the most in that time frame among active Lions. Three of his goals have been game-winners.

Lane is the "Mane" Man in Goal
The competition was fierce for the starting goalkeeper job during preseason training but redshirt freshman Patrick Lane proved that he was the right man for the job. Lane had three shutouts on the season and did an outstanding job of keeping the Lions in tight matches against ranked opponents. His three victories came over ranked foes (#7 Harvard, #17 New Mexico and #23 Gonzaga) and he was named to two all-tournament teams (Nike/TLC Plumbing & Utility Invitational and LMU Invitational).

Losing Streak Snapped
LMU snapped its nine-match losing streak against #23 Gonzaga, putting an end to the longest losing streak under Paul Krumpe and the longest in WCC play in school history. Although it was the longest losing streak under Krumpe, the 2007 Lions still had a long way to go to set the school record for futility, as the LMU program once lost 15 consecutive matches in 1990. However, the 2007 Lions set the program record for most shutouts against in a season at 11, surpassing the previous total of 10 from 1988.

Winning Streak Snapped
LMU's fall to a 3-16-1 record marked the first time since 1998 that the Lions had not had a record of .500 or better. That year was Paul Krumpe's first season at LMU.
Prior to Krumpe's arrival, the Lions had had just two winning seasons, coming in 1979 and 1980.

Krumpe Brings in Large Recruiting Class
With the sting of 2007 fresh in their minds, the Lions are looking to the future to avoid a similar downturn in the upcoming seasons. Coach Krumpe and his staff have signed ten new players who will join the squad in 2008, with an eye towards the offensive. Strikers Phil Da Silva (USL Super Y League National Team), Arthur Jozkowicz (CIF-SS First Team Division IV), and Tyler Krumpe (CIF-SS Division II Offensive Player of the Year) will join the mix up front.
Midfielders Fernando Barba (CIF-SS First Team Division IV), Alex Greenman (two-time First Team All-Centennial League), Kyle Johanson (2007 NSCAA High School All-America), and Logan McDaniel (CIF-SS First Team) will add depth and creativity to the Lions.
The defense will also be represented with a pair of 2008 CIF-SS Defensive Players of the Year in Adam Jackson (Division II) and Roger Downes (Division I). Goalie Max Young completes the 2008 recruiting class.

Tournament Awards
The Lions played in three mini-tournaments in 2007, registering a record of 2-3-1 that included four matches against ranked opponents. At the Nike/TLC Plumbing & Utility Invitational at Albuquerque, NM, the Lions defeated #17 New Mexico 1-0 but fell to Central Florida 1-0. Junior Brad Stisser and redshirt freshmen Patrick Lane and Josh Carroll were all awarded all-tournament honors.
The following week at the Saint Louis/Nike Soccer Classic, the Lions matched up with #24 Saint Louis and #16 Creighton until the very end but in each match fell to a single goal late, with Saint Louis scoring with 80 seconds remaining in regulation and Creighton gaining the game-winner in overtime. Seniors Nick Blanco and Adam Sloustcher were each named to the all-tournament team.
A home tournament, the LMU Invitational, saw the Lions knock off #7 Harvard 3-2 and battle Columbia to a goalless draw. Sloustcher was the tournament's Defensive co-MVP while Lane gained his second all-tournament honor, joined by freshman Rafael Baca.




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